Starlight Reviews – Philip Brooks’ Hannibal… & Enid A. Goldberg and Norman Itzkowitz’s Tomás de Torquemada…



Starlight Reviews | Jorie's Reads by Starry Night Elf

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: Romes Worst Nightmare (Wicked History)
Hannibal: Rome’s Worst Nightmare (A Wicked History) 
by Philip Brooks
Publisher: Scholastic
Publication date: Mar 09, 2009
Genre: Biography
ISBN: 978-0531221747
Source: Houston Public Library

Goodreads 

 Description: 

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.

Review: 

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!

             RR - Yellow  Rainbow Rating: Yellow – Parental Guidance for Kids Under 13

Tomas de Torquemada: Architect of Torture During the Spanish Inquisition (Wicked History) 
Tomás de Torquemada: Architect of Torture During the Spanish Inquisition (A Wicked History Series)

by Enid A. Goldberg & Norman Itzkowitz
Publisher: Scholastic
Publication date: Sep 28, 2007
Genre: Biography
ISBN: 9780531125984
Source: Montgomery County Memorial Library System 

Goodreads 

Description: 

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.

Review: 

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.

RR - Orange  Rainbow Rating: Orange – Restricted from those under age 17 

 

Advertisements

Norman Itzkowitz & Enid A. Goldberg’s Genghis Khan : 13th-century Mongolian tyrant (A Wicked History)


Itzkowitz, N., & Goldberg, E. A. (2008). In Genghis Khan: 13th-century Mongolian tyrant. New York: Franklin Watts. 0531125963

When I searched online for a listing of “A Wicked History” Series, I discovered that the biography of Genghis Khan was one of the first. Disappointed that none of my local libraries had this one about Genghis Khan, I requested the item through interlibrary loan (ILL). Before reading this slim volume on the guy, I knew next to nothing about him – he was a scary man who still had the world talking, he left numerous descendants, and John Wayne, of all people, played Genghis Khan in a movie sans accent.

Genghis Khan was  born Temujin in the twelfth century on the harsh Mongolian Steppe. Here, many tribes duked it out constantly – fighting for survival and turf. His parents were the tough Yesugei and his kidnapped bride Hoelun. This was all but a dog eat dog world where the Mongols and others nomads of the treeless plain lived in yurts and eeked out an existence. When Yesugei died from a poisoned dish, Temujin and his family were left to fend for themselves. Where most perished, Temujin was scrappy and ornery enough to survive.

Temujin grew strong and conquered his world. His warriors maded up the best army and, with them, Temujin terrorized cities, raped and pillaged, rendered people homeless. He punished his enemies mercilessly.

However, Temujin became Genghis Khan (thought to mean “universal ruler”), a man also known for his loyalty and providence. He unified the clans and the tribes of the Steppe. Genghis Khan was even called religiously tolerant and he established a sort of pony express and even a written language.

Not much is certain about Genghis Khan; he permitted no one to paint his portrait and his grave site is unknown. A copy of The Secret History of the Mongols turned up in China in the 1880s.   This work depicts a son born in a bad situation, who pursued his own life ruthlessly.

Whether or not Genghis Khan was wicked seems to be an easy call for me. What do you think?

Three Out of Five Pearls

Quote:

The leaders of the Mongols said to the young Genghis Khan: We will make you khan . . . . And if we disobey your command, separate us from our families, from our ladies and wives. Separates us, and throw down our heads upon the ground! If we disobey you, exile us and throw us out into the wilderness.

– Excerpt from The History of the Life of Genghis Khan: The Secret History of the Mongols

Word Bank: (from the glossary of this book)

  • alliance – an agreement to work together
  • ally – a person or country that gives support to another
  • andas – in Mongol culture, friends who proved the closeness of their bond by drinking each other’s blood
  • ballista – a weapon that worked like a giant crossbow; it shot arrows that could break through the walls of buildings
  • Buddhist – a person who practices Buddhism, a religion based on the teachings of Buddha and practiced mainly in eastern and central Asia
  • caravan – a group of people traveling together
  • civilized – highly developed and organized
  • clan – an extended family group
  • descendant – a person’s child, grandchild, or other such relative on into the future
  • empire – a group of countries or regions that have the same ruler
  • exile – a situation in which one is forced to stay away from one’s homeland
  • firelance – a spear-like weapon with a tube containing gunpowder
  • Genghis Khan – Mongol words meaning “universal ruler”; Mongol leaders gave Temujin this title in 1206
  • khan – a Mongol word meaning ruler or leader
  • Muslim – someone who follows the religion of Islam, a religion based on the teachings of Muhammad
  • nomadic – wandering from place to place
  • ruthless – cruel and without pity
  • sable – a small animal that looks like a weasel; its soft brown fur is very valuable
  • sacred – holy, deserving great respect
  • scribe – a person who copies documents by hand
  • shaman – a person who communicates with the spirit world to help tell the future, control events, or cure the sick
  • steppe – treeless plains found in Asia
  • sultan – an emperor or ruler of some Muslim countries
  • tribe – a group of people who share the same ancestors and customs
  • Yasa – the code of law created by Genghis Khan
  • yoke – a wooden frame placed around a person’s neck to hold him or her prisoner
  • yurt – a circular tent made of felt stretched over a light, portable frame of branches

Places: Mongolia, China, Persia, Armenia, Turkey, Iraq, Afghanistan, Russia, Hungary, Poland, Ukraine, Georgia

For more on Genghis Khan, please check out the following sites: