Last night I received this week's US News & World Report, the cover story of which is The First Holy War, a piece on the Crusades with a view to today's events.
Today the April issue of Crisis Magazine was posted online, and its cover story (The Real History of the Crusades) deals with the same topic, its author (Thomas Madden, chair of St. Louis University's Dept. of History) focusing on the misconceptions surrounding the Crusades. Let me give one quote from this article:
They [the Crusades] were not the brainchild of an ambitious pope or rapacious knights but a response to more than four centuries of conquests in which Muslims had already captured two-thirds of the old Christian world. At some point, Christianity as a faith and a culture had to defend itself or be subsumed by Islam. The Crusades were that defense.
The two articles thus have different aims, but both are excellent, and I heartily recommend reading each of them.