Walter Scott, The Talisman, the Crusades, Richard I of England and Saladin: Myths, Legends and History
by Ibn Warraq
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"The sources cherished by Gibb project a vivid picture; if one denies these sources their special insight, and they are left as public pronouncements of policy, propaganda claims, didactic image-making, then they cannot be used to uncover some other ‘inner’ Saladin, because their special standing has gone. His personality, his ‘real purposes and ideals’, must remain obscure; and how much the more so if one has frequent recourse to a frankly hostile source, Ibn al-Athir, for whom no one would claim any special standing and whose view of Saladin must remain external- for, in essence, while Gibb takes the twin part of ‘Imad al-Din and Baha’ al-Din, Ehrenkreutz plays Ibn al-Athir despite Gibb’s close, technical criticism of his account. Ehrenkreutz writes of ‘using more realistic perspectives’ (p.9), while he gives subjective interpretation of the motives behind the narrative of events, as told by himself, Many may find it hard to accept Gibb’s view of Saladin in toto, for it could be argued that his attitude to the sources is fundamentally circular, yet many will find it hard to accept Ehrenkreutz’s view, which swings far in the opposite direction and is less accurately based on the texts, however interpreted”. 
But precisely what is compelling about Ehrenkreutz’s account is not his interpretation of Saladin’s motives, but the displaying of those acts of the Sultan which had hitherto been relegated to an obscure background- particularly the acts of his years in Egypt. Who is Ehrenkreutz? Andrew Ehrenkreutz [1921-2008] completed his doctorate at the University of London's School of Oriental Studies, under Bernard Lewis. In 1953 Ehrenkreutz accepted a post-doctorate fellowship to Yale University, and in the summer of 1954 he moved to Ann Arbor as a visiting lecturer in Islamic History at the University of Michigan. From 1967-85 he was professor in both the departments of Near Eastern studies and history. He was a recognized authority on the economic problems of the Near East in the period of the Crusaders.
If Robert Irwin, in dismissing Ehrenkreutz, was using an argument from authority (in this case the authority of D.S.Richards), I can come up with a far greater number of recognized authorities on the Crusades or Islamic history who wrote favourable reviews of Ehrenkreutz’s book.
C.3.1 P.M.Holt [1918-2006] was “ Emeritus Professor of the History of the Near and
Middle East at the School of Oriental and African Studies of London University. “He was a historian of the Middle East, broadly interpreted: his main interests, geographically, were in Sudan, Egypt and Syria. Later in life, he concluded, as so many good historians do, that the Middle Ages were far more interesting than the modern period, and he concentrated on Syria and Egypt during the Crusades and in the Mameluke era which began in 1250”. 
Holt reviewed Gibb and Ehrenkreutz together.  He found Gibb more than unjust towards Ibn al-Athir, “The chronicler Ibn al-Athir, although also an contemporary, was a Zangid partisan, and is impugned in [Gibb’s] book more severely than any of Gibb’s previous writings. This may occasion some demur: granted that Ibn al-Athir can be inaccurate in detail, and that he displays a known bias (which may therefore be discounted), his testimony should not be ruled completely out of court. Even as an advocatus diaboli, he may help in the assessment of motive”.
 D.S.Richards, op. cit., pp.141-142.
 Obituary in The Independent, 28 November 2006, by David Morgan.
 P.M. Holt. Review of: Hamilton Gibb, The Life of Saladin from the works of ‘Imād ad-Dīn and Bahā’ ad-Dīn in 1973; Saladin by Andrew S. Ehrenkreutz in Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, [London] Vol.36, No.3 (1973), pp.651-652.
To be continued.