The Making of Medieval Spain

The Making Of Medieval SpainThe Making Of Medieval Spain by Gabriel Jackson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Making of Medieval Spain is part of a larger series on European History of short, yet informational volumes written in the early 1970s. Even though the histriography is dated and the volume is less than 200 pages in length, Gabriel Jackson did an excellent job of giving the reader a clear view of the complex political and religious history of as well as giving an good insight of the cultural developments occuring in art and literature.

While I would have preferred a more detailed political and diplomatic history, but the insight into the cultural developments occuring during the period Jackson wrote about and tied to more recent artist and literatry styles was appreciated. Also at many places in the text, Jackson identified the beginnings of practices the Spanish would use in their American colonies. And in the last pages of the book looked at the elements in Spain at the end of the 15th-century that would be used by other, mostly Protestant, nations to create the Black Legend that has presisted in viewing of Spain and Spanish-influenced cultures and nations ever since.

Due to length and have to be general in everything, I can only give this book 3 stars. However it is a nice introduction to medieval Spain to be sure.

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New Spring (WoT #0)

New Spring (Wheel of Time, #0)New Spring by Robert Jordan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Wheel of Time prequel, New Spring, is a very good addition to the series written by Robert Jordan. I read New Spring after Booke 5, The Fires of Heaven, based off the recommendation of several WoT fans instead of after Crossroads of Twilight (Book 10) when the prequel was published. Considering that Moiraine and Lan are the main POV characters throught the book and that after the events of The Fires of Heaven, reading the prequel when I did made New Spring both enjoyable and bittersweet.

Obviously New Spring helps explain the motivations of both Moiraine and Lan when we first meet them in The Eye of the World, but it also gives us a view of the “normal” workings of Aes Sedai and the White Tower before the unusual happenings already seen in the series. Politics of the world are fully in view with Lan finding himself in the midst of the “biggest” political storm. If I were to find a bad thing about New Spring is that some of the material that Jordan wrote to expand New Spring from a short story to a full novel(la) seems to be just filler making the story bog down a tad.

Overall, New Spring is a good quality introduction to some of the “older” characters of the early Wheel of Time books and I fully recommend reading it, especially after Book 5, The Fires of Heaven.

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The Peloponessian War

The Peloponnesian WarThe Peloponnesian War by Donald Kagan
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Donald Kagan, one of the foremost scholars of Ancient Greek history, wrote a concise but thorough history of the Peloponnesian War for a general audience based off his four-volume academic masterpiece on the same subject. From the start Kagan brings the reader to the time period of the war with enough background information that someone not familiar at all with Ancient Greece will understand the circumstances of the beginning of the war from each side’s viewpoint. Throughout the work, Kagan brings in a modern military and political view to help examine decisions of either side that the ancient sources’ explain as social virtue or vice. This supplement to the ancient sources helps give a fuller view of the decisions of the Athenians, Spartans, and their respective allies. If you want to learn about Ancient Greek history beyond Marathon or Thermopylae, I fully recommend this book.

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