THE TIGRESS OF FORLÌ

THE LIFE OF RENAISSANCE ITALY'S MOST COURAGEOUS AND NOTORIOUS COUNTESS, CATERINA RIARIO SFORZA DE MEDICI

An engrossing biography of one of Renaissance Italy’s most accomplished powerbrokers.

Few people were better able to navigate the sea of shifting alliances and internecine squabbles that characterized 15th-century Italy than Caterina Sforza (1463–1509). All the more remarkable is that she was able to do it in an era when all of her rivals were men. Widowed by three husbands—two of them assassinated before her eyes—Sforza ruled over the province of Forlì as regent for her young son Ottaviano, and was reviled, admired and feared in equal measure by popes, foreign powers and her own subjects alike. Lev (Art History/Duquesne Univ.) deftly explores the psychological strains endured by the Countess, from her first marriage to a diffident and cowardly nephew of Pope Sixtus IV, to the murder of her beloved second husband and the merciless vengeance she took upon the conspirators, to her heroic and single-handed defense of her city from the Venetians and her ultimate imprisonment in the dungeons of Cesare Borgia. The author writes with a light touch and an eye for the pageantry and drama of the time—her subject was known as one of the best-dressed women in Italy—while colorfully recounting weighty affairs of state. In one memorable scene, Sforza gains the upper hand negotiating a military alliance with a young Machiavelli: “While Machiavelli had thought the seduction of Catarina was complete, she made it clear that the courtship was only beginning. Stung by his misreading of the situation, he showed his shock and hurt through both his words and gestures, betraying his inexperience. Only later would Machiavelli learn to conceal his true thoughts behind a mask of wit and irony.” An inspiring tale of the courage and fortitude of an enigmatic and indomitable woman.

 

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-15-101299-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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

NIGHT

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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