An exceptional introduction to the Templars.



An up-close look at the legendary band of Crusaders.

Jones (Magna Carta: The Birth of Liberty, 2015, etc.) examines the storied Templars, an organization of quasi-monastic warriors who rose to fame and power in the midst of the Crusades only to rapidly collapse in questionable scandals. The author realizes that the allure of the Templars, then and now, is related to their otherworldly ideal. “In a sense,” he writes, “the Order had always existed in two spheres, the real and the imaginary.” The Templars uniquely combined the rigid discipline of a monastic order with the seemingly secular profession of soldier. This unusual pairing, along with the epic backdrop of the Crusades, made them popular among their contemporaries and has kept them in the public imagination since. Starting in 1119 as a band of soldiers committed to protecting Christian pilgrims visiting the Holy Land, the Templars soon received the spiritual patronage of 12th-century divine Bernard of Clairvaux. Bernard wrote the “rule” by which the Templars were to live and work and advocated for them with the powers that be. The Templars would go on to achieve great fame and eventually become very wealthy landowners. Late in the century, the armies of Saladin would decimate them and reverse their achievements; however, the order would live on and rise to prominence again. Early in the 14th century, Templar leaders were, rightly or wrongly, accused of heresy and many were imprisoned or put to death, putting an end to the order and, most importantly, to its power. Jones provides a meaty, well-researched history replete with primary source quotes. Organized in four distinct parts, the narrative clearly lays out the story of the Templars and their changing fortunes. Though steeped in the facts of medieval history, the book presents as accessible to general readers.

An exceptional introduction to the Templars.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-525-42830-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Aug. 16, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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