In this edition of Starlight Reviews, I offer up two books from Scholastic’s A Wicked History Series. The first one tells of the life of Hannibal Barca, the ancient Carthaginian general who fought the Romans in The Second Punic War. The other book focuses on Grand Inquisitor Tomás de Torquemada, who committed genocide against Spanish Jews.
Hannibal: Rome’s Worst Nightmare (A Wicked History)
by Philip Brooks
Publication date: Mar 09, 2009
Source: Houston Public Library
Philip Brooks relates the life of Hannibal Barca, (247 – 183/182/181 BC). A Punic Carthaginian (modern-day Tunisia) military commander, Hannibal learned much from his father, Hamilcar Barca. Hamilcar led the Carthaginian troops in the First Punic War. As a child, Hannibal promised his father he would hate Rome and forever fight its empire.
After his father died in Spain, Hannibal headed there as a general. Considered a tactical genius, Hannibal led 35,ooo soldiers and elephants (elephants!) across the Alps into Italy in 221 BC. This made Hannibal Rome’s nightmare come true.
I like this series for its concise survey of the various subjects. I especially like how the authors offer an evaluation of whether this person was wicked. I encourage folks to read this book and judge for themselves. Nevertheless, Hannibal kept his promise to his father. Conversely, his treatment of elephants was not at all humane!
Rainbow Rating: Yellow – Parental Guidance for Kids Under 13
Tomás de Torquemada: Architect of Torture During the Spanish Inquisition (A Wicked History Series)
by Enid A. Goldberg & Norman Itzkowitz
Publication date: Sep 28, 2007
Source: Montgomery County Memorial Library System
In Fifteenth Century Spain, judges of the Spanish Inquisition looked under every rock they could for those breaking the laws of the Church. The Inquisition led to friends and family turning in loved ones. Those turned in endured torture. Many times, these suspects confessed to crimes just to make the torture stop. Tomás de Torquemada oversaw all of this.
Goldberg and Itzkowitz delve into the character of Torquemada and seek out the reasons for his genocidal mania. They offer details which shed light on possible motives. Also, readers discover how Torquemada rose to power with the help of Isabella I. His vendetta against the Jews and Moors (Islamic people of Northern African descent) changed the landscape of the Old World.
Again, I liked this short, sweet volume on the life of Torquemada. I appreciated the illustrations and the final thoughts of Goldberg and Itzkowitz addressed many issues that still exist. Even today, people refer to the Inquisition in casual conversation. My only complaint was the description of the torture techniques. Nevertheless, it goes with the territory of a book about the Spanish Inquisition.
Rainbow Rating: Orange – Restricted from those under age 17