Treasures from the Library: Hilaire Belloc’s The Crusades

The plus side of spending hours in the stacks is the ability to scope out the shelves– a third of the collection sits at my fingertips, and among it are a few delightful, interesting, and odd finds. This week’s highlighted volume is Hilaire Belloc’s The Crusades: The World’s Debate.

Hilaire Belloc, as you may know, was an Anglo-Frenchman and a contemporary of GK Chesterton. He was a prolific writer, with works spanning history, politics, and verse. There are a number of his works in the collection, though not Cautionary Tales for Children (I detect a theme between the absence of this work and Old Possum…) I am, admittedly, poorly read when it comes to Belloc’s works– his Characters of the Reformation is currently on my shelf but that is it so far.

IMG_20160316_201604966Have you ever had that feeling, as you visually scan a shelf, that you’ve found something
interesting? I was taking a short break on Saturday, walking down the row of books and trying to avoid the temptation to ready my way through World War I when I was stopped by this one. The spine is so interesting, banner standing proud and proclaiming itself The Crusades.

Our copy of The Crusades: The World’s Debate was published in 1937, a first edition. In the work, Belloc discusses the history of the Crusades as well as reviewing the reasons why they ultimately failed. Despite the fact that this  book has resided in the stacks for a reasonably long period of time, and resided in another library prior (the stamp is faintly visible below our own), it is in good condition. The cloth on the spine is thin, but not yet broken, and the pages are browned but not overly brittle. The biggest draw back is the remnants of cellophane tape used to hold the first few pages in– not because the tape is failing, but because we need to decide how to address it. The tape did not hold the pages quite where they should have been, and there is wear on the edges as well.

Still, a handsome edition to the collection. The Crusades is currently held for review (remember the tape?) but other Belloc historical works are available in the Stacks. Verse and fiction can be found in the Newman Room.


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