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review 2017-10-08 02:24
Renegade: Martin Luther, the Graphic Biography
Renegade: Martin Luther, The Graphic Biography - Dacia Palmerino

I received this book through LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program.

 

The life of Martin Luther, the man who sparked the Protestant Reformation, has been written about for centuries yet now it can not only be written about but visualized as well.  Renegade: Martin Luther, the Graphic Biography by Andrea Grosso Ciponte and Dacia Palmerino is exactly what its title says about the man who sparked a change in history.

 

Depicting the life of Luther from his childhood to his death, the biography focuses on his time as a monk led up to and through his break with Rome.  At 153 pages there is only so much that can be covered and only so much context as well through sometimes the visual aspect of the graphic novel does come in handy.  While the short length of the book obviously foreshadowed only the barest minimum that could be covered on his life, yet the graphic novel aspect seemed to offer a way to enhance the chronicling of Luther’s life.  Unfortunately the artwork looks like screen caps of a video game with so-so graphics with only a few great pages of art, usually at the beginning of each chapter.

 

The overall quality of the biographical and artwork content of Renegade is a mixed bag of a passable chronicle on Luther’s life and so-so artwork.  While some younger readers than myself might find it a very good read and hopefully make them want to know more about Martin Luther and the Reformation, I found it a tad underwhelming.

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review 2017-06-03 00:46
While the World is Still Asleep by Petra Durst-Benning
While the World Is Still Asleep - Petra Durst-Benning,Edwin Miles

This book was excruciatingly dull and was only made worse by horrible audio narration. The story takes place in Berlin, but only a few people have thick German accents, while the main characters sound more American than I do. Odd anachronisms and two-dimensional characters didn't help the slow plot along either.

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review 2017-04-27 23:57
The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (Modern Library Volume 3 of 3)
The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume III (Modern Library) - Gian Battista Piranesi,Edward Gibbon

The finale volume of Modern Library’s three-volume reprint of Edward Gibbon’s The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire covers chapters 49 through 71 of the author’s vast magnum opus.  Beginning with the Iconoclast controversy in correlation with rise of the Vatican and Holy Roman Empire in the 8th century and ending with a description of the causes and progression of the decay of the city of Roman in the 15th century, Gibbon relates in detail the political, martial, social, and theological developments in both Europe and the Middle East ultimately led to the end of Byzantine Empire with the fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans and the state of the city of Roman at time of the Roman Empire’s complete end.

 

The majority of the 22 chapters deal with the rise of Islam and the resultant political and martial effects that would ultimately determine the fate of the Byzantine Empire.  Although beginning with the Iconoclastic controversy that began the schism of the Christian church as the bishop of Rome rose to power in the West, Gibbon used those developments to launch into how Islam rose in Arabia then spread across not only areas once under Roman control but also their long-time Persian rivals in the aftermath of the reconquests of Heraclius.  While detailing the internal struggle within the Caliphate period, Gibbon reveals how Emperors attempted to combat this new faith and military force to increasing little effect has time went on.

 

The thorough retelling of the numerous political changes throughout Asia that affect the fortunes of the Byzantine Empire shifted the focus away from the ‘Roman’ world to locations as far east as China, but revolutions of people in these areas would play into the fortunes of Constantinople.  Also playing into fate of Byzantine was the barbarian Christian West that the Emperors called for aid not only from kings but the Pope as well.  Unfortunately the resulting Crusades and mercenary arms that went East would inflict a mortal wound to the Empire in 1204 thus beginning a centuries long death spiral that only lasted as long as it did because of internal revolutions with the growing Ottoman Empire until 1453.  This dreary recounting of the end of Byzantium is mirrored by Gibbon in his recounting of the history of the city of Rome itself throughout the Middle Ages until the fall of the New Rome in the East.

 

This finale volume of Gibbon’s life consuming work revealed the struggle of the Eastern Empire of Byzantium to continue against a succession of Islamic powers and its ultimate demise thus completing the fall of the Roman Empire.  Yet in retelling the eventual fall of Constantinople, Gibbon paints a huge picture for the reader about how events both near and far away from the Bosporus affected the fortunes for both good and ill of the New Rome.  And in recounting the history of the city of Rome throughout the Middle Ages, a reader sheds a tear with Gibbon about the loss of the monuments of both Republic and Empire due to the necessity or vanity of the people of Rome after for the fall of the Western Empire.

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review 2017-03-01 16:01
How the Third Reich developed their advanced weaponry
German Secret Weapons Of The Second World War: The Missiles, Rockets, Weapons And New Technology Of The Third Reich - Ian V. Hogg

In January 1941 staff officers of the U.S., British, and Canadian militaries met in Washington D,C.. Though the United States was still a year from declaring war, planning was already underway in anticipation of that prospect, and the decisions they reached shaped much of the war that followed. Among the most important of these was that Germany was the primary opponent in any war involving the Axis powers. Though there were several excellent reasons for this, one of them was that the Germans possessed the greatest capacity for developing weapons which might radically transform the war, and thus needed to be defeated before they did.

 

Ian Hogg's book offers evidence of the wisdom of this decision. In it he provides an overview of the major weapons research bring undertaken by the Third Reich before and during the war. Diving his examination into categories, he summarizes the major projects to design new aircraft and air-launched weapons, air defense weapons, naval weapons, and the Wunderwaffen and nuclear and chemical weapons programs. His focus throughout is on their development, providing technical details and accounts of the decisions whether to undertake or abandon them and avoiding more than a brief mention of their deployment in the cases where the weapons were introduced. As befits a former artilleryman in the Royal Army, his section discussing the "big guns" is the best, but he provides interesting details throughout about the technical and bureaucratic challenges that slowed or stopped the development of weapons that might have changed the course of the war. The result is a work that is an excellent introduction to Germany's secret weapons programs, one best suited for the reader familiar with military technology but an informative read for anyone interested in an overview of the subject.

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review 2016-07-15 16:02
Podcast #11 is up!
Frederick Barbarossa: The Prince and the Myth - John B. Freed

My eleventh podcast has been posted on the New Books Network website! In it I interview John Freed about his new biography of the German emperor Frederick Barbarossa (which I reviewed here). Enjoy!

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