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'Saladin' by Anne-Marie Eddé

Anne-Marie Eddé writes of a charismatic historical figure. Anne-Marie Eddé writes of a charismatic historical figure.
By Michael Patrick Brady
Globe Correspondent / November 7, 2011

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How, asks historian Anne-Marie Eddé, did Saladin, a “relentless jihad fighter,’’ come to be identified as a “valiant, generous, and magnanimous’’ figure among his former foes? Her weighty, comprehensive biography, “Saladin,’’ examines the birth and elaboration of a legend that casts a shadow even into the present day. In it, she highlights the conflict that can arise when our quest for historical truth runs up against the carefully constructed image that people of the past wanted us to see.

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By Anne-Marie Eddé

Translated, from the French, by Jane Marie Todd

Belknap/Harvard University, 660 pp., illustrated, $35