Books: Death as a Virtue

THE CRUSADES by Zoé Oldenbourg. 650 pages. Pantheon. $6.95.

The Crusaders who stormed Jerusalem on July 15, 1099, slaughtered the Turkish garrison and then ran amuck, firing mosques and synagogues, battering down doors, killing, killing, killing. Even as the slaughter of 40,000 people was still going on, the leaders of the Crusade, the barons of France, Germany and Sicily, humbly went "barefoot, with sighs and tears, through the holy places where Jesus Christ had lived in the flesh," devoutly kissing the "places where his feet had trod." In the end, wrote Chronicler William of Tyre, "the city offered a spectacle of such...