EMPRESS OF THE DUSK by John W. Vandercook


Email this review


In January 1937, Rene Kraus published a fascinating fictionized biography of Theodora of Byzantium, in a sense a defense of a much-maligned woman. Vandercook, too, takes this point of view about her, though he sees her more in her political capacity, contributing to the saving of a tottering empire, than as instrumental in the building of the Justinian Code and defender of the rights of women. An exciting and varied life, with childhood spent in the dark vaults under the Hippodrome, a youth as prostitute on the streets of Byzantium, and finally her career as mistress and wife of the Emperor. Sharp contrast in the picture of street life among the lower classes and the resplendent Empire of Rome, decadent in its failing strength. The first half is more definitely Theodora's story; the last half, the story of the reign of Justinian, with her personality as a dominant note. Exciting, horrifying, seemingly authentic, with scarcely a dull moment. Recommend as a good story rather than history or biography -- and ware the fastidious.

Pub Date: May 17th, 1940
Publisher: Reynal & Hitchcock