Monday, October 31, 2016

Short Book Reviews: We've Come a Long Way Since 1492

1492: A Novel of Christopher Columbus, the Spanish Inquisition, and a World at the Turning Point, by Newton Frohlich (Blue Bird Press, October 2016) This novelization of the events leading up to the “discovery” of the Americas was originally published in 1990. Alas, the years have not worn gracefully on the work. From the beginning, I found the depiction of the Muslim world stereotyped. Works such as Amin Maalouf’s The Crusades Through Arab Eyes (1984) and Carole Hillenbrand’s The Crusades: Islamic Perspectives (2006) portray another picture. Even setting aside the preconceptions of nearly two decades ago, I found the portrayals of the various historical personages emotionally distant. To anyone unfamiliar with the time period, the connections between the Inquisition, the political ambitions of Queen Isabella, and the increasingly desperate need of the Jews for a safe haven, will provide thoughtful insights. However, it pales compared to the lively, vivid Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean, by Edward Kritzler (2008).

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