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text 2017-12-07 15:01
The Fate of Kings

Mark Stibbe is a guest on my blog today, announcing his new release The Fate of Kings and discussing the relevance of late 18th century politics to modern times. 

 

Source: samanthawilcoxson.blogspot.com/2017/12/the-fate-of-kings-and-its-relevance-to.html
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review 2017-11-18 23:27
Reformations: The Early Modern World, 1450-1650
Reformations: Early Modern Europe, 1450-1660 - Carlos M.N. Eire

Half a millennium after a lone monk began a theological dispute that eventually tore Western Christendom asunder both religiously and politically, does the event known as the Reformation still matter?  In his book Reformations: The Early Modern World, 1450-1650, Carlos M.N. Eire determined to examine the entire period leading up to and through the epoch of the Reformation.  An all-encompassing study for beginners and experts looks to answer that question.

 

Eire divided his large tome into four parts: On the Edge, Protestants, Catholics, and Consequences.  This division helps gives the book both focusing allowing the reader to see the big picture at the same time.  The 50-60 years covered in “On the Edge” has Eire go over the strands of theological, political, and culture thoughts and developments that led to Luther’s 95 theses.  “Protestants” goes over the Martin Luther’s life then his theological challenge to the Church and then the various versions of Protestantism as well as the political changes that were the result.  “Catholics” focused on the Roman Church’s response to the theological challenges laid down by Protestants and how the answers made at the Council of Trent laid the foundations of the modern Catholicism that lasted until the early 1960s.  “Consequences” focused on the clashes between the dual Christian theologies in religious, political, and military spheres and how this clash created a divide that other ideas began to challenge Christianity in European thought.

 

Over the course of almost 760 out of the 920 pages, Eire covers two centuries worth of history in a variety of ways to give the reader a whole picture of this period of history.  The final approximately 160 pages are of footnotes, bibliography, and index is for more scholarly readers while not overwhelming beginner readers.  This decision along with the division of the text was meant mostly for casual history readers who overcome the prospect of such a huge, heavy book.

 

Reformations: The Early Modern World, 1450-1650 sees Europe’s culture change from its millennium-long medieval identity drastically over the course of two centuries even as Europe starts to affect the rest of the globe.  Carlos N.M. Eire authors a magnificently written book that gives anyone who wonders if the Reformation still matters, a very good answer of if they ask the question then yes it still does.  So if you’re interested to know why the Reformation matters, this is the book for you.

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review 2017-10-28 02:47
The Division of Christendom
The Division of Christendom: Christianity in the Sixteenth Century - Hans J. Hillerbrand

Christendom, the social-political-religious definition of Europe for nearly millennium was shaken at the right moment and the right place to rend it asunder for all time.  In Hans J. Hillerbrand’s revision of his own work, The Division of Christendom: Christianity in the Sixteenth Century, the Reformation started by Martin Luther in Germany is seen first and foremost as a religious dispute that was not inevitable but due to political and societal factors as able to evolve until it became irreversible.

 

Hillerbrand began by setting the stage upon which Luther would burst onto the scene focusing not only on the condition of the Church, but also the political situation in Germany.  Then Hillerbrand goes into what he calls “the first phase” of the Reformation in which Luther was the primary focus from 1517 to 1521, then after Luther’s stand at Worms the focus of the Reformation changes from a primarily religious controversy into one that politics begins to dominate in Germany.  Yet, Hillerbrand doesn’t stop with Luther and Germany, as he begins describing the reactions to the German events in other territories before they lead to their own Reformation events.  The Catholic Church’s response to the spread of Protestantism across Europe, the different forms of Protestantism besides Lutheranism, and the theological debates between all of them were all covered.  And at the end of the book Hillerbrand compared the beginning of the 16th-century to the end and how each was different and the same after over 80 years of debate.

 

While Hillerbrand’s survey of the Reformation is intended for both general audiences and scholars, which he successes in doing, the epilogue of the book is what I believe is the best part of the text.  Entitled “Historiography”, Hillerbrand discusses the various ways the Reformation has been covered by historians over the past 500 years and the trends in history as well.  But in reviewing his own text, Hillerbrand emphasized the religious aspect that sparked as well as influenced the Reformation and the importance of the events in Germany which determined not only Luther’s but the Reformation’s fate in Europe.  By ending the book on this note, Hillerbrand gives his readers much to think about on either to agree or disagree with his conclusion which is one of the many reasons to study history.

 

The Division of Christendom is a relatively, for 500 pages, compact survey of 16th-century Europe in which things both changed dramatically and yet stayed the same during a transformative time in Western history.  As one of the foremost historians of the Reformation, Hans J. Hillerbrand knows this period of history as no one else and just adds to my recommendation to read this book for those interested in the Reformation.

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review 2017-10-07 18:11
Skewed by a flawed premise
De Gaulle: Lessons in Leadership from the Defiant General - Michael E. Haskew,Wesley K. Clark

Michael Haskew's book is less an analysis of Charles de Gaulle's leadership style than it is a compact overview of the French leader's life with a concentration on his military career. In it, Haskew details de Gaulle's service in the French army, his experience in both world wars, and his relationship with other key contemporaries, most notably Philippe Pétain. Haskew writes well, and peppers his text with insightful anecdotes that are both engaging and illustrative of his subject. Yet perhaps because of its place in a series on "great generals" the book is based on a flawed premise: though de Gaulle spent over three decades in uniform, he was a general in direct command of French army units for only a few weeks before he transitioned to the more political role of leader of the Free French. This Haskew does cover as well, but then he glosses over the postwar era in which de Gaulle created a political movement and served as president of France for a decade. To glance over de Gaulle's more significant role as a politician in a book ostensibly dealing with his leadership is inexcusable, and limits the value of Haskew's book as a study of his fascinating subject. Readers seeking an introduction to de Gaulle's life and career would be far better served by reading Julian Jackson's de Gaulle, which in terms of coverage and analysis is everything Haskew's book is not.

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review 2017-09-21 16:49
An excellent introduction to the French leader
De Gaulle - Julian Jackson

Normally I'm not a fan of short biographies, as for too many of them concision of the subject's life comes at the cost of in-depth insight. There are some books, however, which are the exception to this, and Julian Jackson's biography of Charles de Gaulle is one of them. A big reason for this is his prioritization of what matters; the majority of the book focuses on de Gaulle's political career, in particular his eleven years as president of France. Yet Jackson doesn't ignore de Gaulle's early life, as he summarizes it in a way that highlights his development as a leader, such as his inter-war writings and his relationship with Philippe Pétain. While this necessarily means that subjects such as his personal life get short shrift, the result is a book that is a superb introduction for anyone seeking an introduction to the French leader and his legacy.

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