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ISABELLA OF CASTILE

THE FIRST RENAISSANCE QUEEN

In this scholarly, limpidly written work, Rubin (The Mother Mirror, 1984; The New Suburban Woman, 1982) recounts the story of Spain's greatest queen and the impact of her reign on her country and the world. The marriage of Isabella of Castile and Prince Ferdinand of Aragon (1469), more than any other event, caused the creation of the Spanish state by merging Spain's two main Christian kingdoms. Rubin demonstrates that Isabella's unique personality left a pervasive mark on the nascent Spanish society. Isabella's devout Catholicism led her to embrace religious fanatics like her confessor Cisneros, and resulted in the completion of the reconquista (the conquest of Moorish Spain), the expulsion of the Jews and Moors from Spain, and the institution of the uniquely repressive and cruel Spanish Inquisition (Rubin speculates, without much evidence, that Isabella suffered from a troubled conscience about these excesses). The author also shows how Isabella's faith motivated her to support Columbus's voyages of discovery (she saw his explorations principally as an opportunity to win new souls to Christ, and Rubin relies on primary sources to illustrate Isabella's misgivings at Columbus's frank exploitation of the natives). Rubin also explains the relationship between Isabella's personal tragedies and European politics—the marriage of her daughters Catherine and Juana had important historic consequences but both ended in tragedy. While the author demonstrates the critical importance of Isabella's reign for the Spain that emerged from it, she does not succeed in making a case for Isabella as a ``Renaissance queen'': Isabella united and strengthened Spain but left it intellectually hobbled and dominated by the Church, and less culturally diverse and tolerant than before. Nonetheless, Rubin succeeds admirably in recounting the accomplishments of one of European history's greatest monarchs. A first-rate exposition.

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 1991

ISBN: 0-312-05878-0

Page Count: 496

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1991

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

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Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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NIGHT

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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