An intriguing, astute look at this volatile period, though the author includes too many victim biographies, occasionally...

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THE BURNING TIME

HENRY VIII, BLOODY MARY, AND THE PROTESTANT MARTYRS OF LONDON

Rounding (Alix and Nicky: The Passion of the Last Tsar and Tsarina, 2012, etc.) explores the depth of the differences and the dangers of life under Henry VIII and his daughter, Queen Mary.

Henry did not jump wildly into the Protestant camp; he fought to protect traditional beliefs and Catholic doctrine, particularly transubstantiation. His greatest fear was usurpation of his authority, which he felt to be fairly total. The pope, obviously, had to go, and, as head of the church, that left Henry to divorce his wife. Next was the submission of the clergy, the cause of Sir Thomas More’s resignation as Lord Chancellor. As More left power, he was replaced by Thomas Cromwell’s man Sir Thomas Audley. Audley’s closest aide, Richard Rich, was at first chancellor of the Court of Augmentations, dealing with the revenues of dissolved monasteries (certainly, a few properties slipped into his pocket). Rounding does a service by bringing Rich back into the spotlight, since he continued into Mary’s reign and was integral in steering many to the stake. Confusion among Henry’s subjects was rampant, as Edward VI turned toward Protestantism and Mary doubled back to Catholicism. One of the main difficulties was the availability of the Bible in the vernacular, which would allow everyone to direct their own faith. After many hours attempting to return a martyr to the flock, death was assured. Negotiation was impossible, even if the inquisitor was proven to have once believed the same as the condemned. Throughout the book, the author examines the mindsets of the martyrs and the strength of their consciences, which kept them from deserting their belief. The suppression of religious beliefs and executions proved to be failures of leadership, but Mary’s convictions were stronger than her reason.

An intriguing, astute look at this volatile period, though the author includes too many victim biographies, occasionally slowing the pace.

Pub Date: Oct. 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-04064-0

Page Count: 480

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

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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