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 

 

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St Augustine’s Confessions (Revisited Challenge)


Confessions (Oxford World's Classics)Title and Author(s):  Saint Augustine Confessions
Release Date: February 15, 2009
ISBN: 978-0199537822
Pages: 311
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Source: (Barnes & Noble Classics) 

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Reasons for Reading:  My first time with Augustine of Hippo happened in one of freshman courses at Baylor. While not exactly resonating with me, I sensed the impact of a work from the father of theologians. Along with The Prince, Augustine’s Confessions won in the Revisited Challenge. While the cover to the right comes from Jorie’s Store on Amazon, I downloaded a copy to my Nook.

Summary: Considered one of the earliest autobiographies, Augustine of Hippo penned these confessions of his youth. He tells of a sinful youth in the Fourth and Fifth Centuries A.D. in Northern Africa. As Augustine was in his early forties when writing Confessions, these don’t tell his entire life story. Still, he sheds insight into his life before conversion to Christianity. Augustine regrets his indiscretions prior to his Christian life. A classic example would be stealing pears.

While his father is a pagan, his mother, Monica, is a Christian. In Augustine’s early years, Monica prays for her son’s salvation. She goes as far as to ask God to send someone to intervene. God places St. Ambrose in Augustine’s path.

When Augustine accepts Christ, he goes on to become the Father of Theology. He influences people to this day. Also, he shows how Christians are not perfect but those who have accepted forgiveness and salvation offered by Jesus Christ.

One Thing I Learned from this book: His mother is now known as Saint Monica. She is the patron saint of difficult marriages, disappointing children, victims of adultery or unfaithfulness, victims of (verbal) abuse, and conversion of relatives. One of her namesakes is Santa Monica, California.

What I Liked: Augustine’s writing style is straightforward and easy to follow. An easy outline helps readers comprehend his life story, Monica’s fervent hopes, and Augustine’s general call to action. He truly leads by example.

What I Disliked: I think Augustine does need to give himself a break. None of us are perfect. Besides, guilt does nobody any good.

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

Song: Friar Alessandro – Adeste Fideles

You might also like:

  • Philip Brooks’ Hannibal: Romes Worst Nightmare (Wicked History)
  • Virgil’s The Aeneid 
  • Gloria Fiero’s The Humanistic Tradition

For more, check out the following sites: