Readable history for specialists and general audiences alike.

QUEENS OF JERUSALEM

THE WOMEN WHO DARED TO RULE

A British historian explores the lives of the women who ruled Christian-captured Jerusalem, circa 1100.

Though chroniclers of the First Crusade left a “rich trove” of narrative sources for modern historians, most of these writers were also misogynist male clerics who minimized the achievements of many powerful women. To balance the historical record, Pangonis, who specializes in the medieval world of the Mediterranean and Middle East, considers the roles and deeds of the unsung queens of Jerusalem who ruled between 1099 and 1187. Crowned in 1118, Morphia was “the first woman to preside as queen over the Kingdom of Jerusalem for any length of time.” Like the royal female consorts who preceded her, her power to rule came from her husband, Baldwin II. But the four daughters she bore him each became rulers at different times of the four states of Outremer, the lands crusaders wrested from the Muslims. Pangonis pays particular attention to Morphia’s first-born daughter, Melisende, whom Baldwin groomed to rule Jerusalem. Like princesses who stood to inherit kingdoms in Europe, though, she could not be named sole inheritor and was forced to marry according to the wishes of her father and his nobles. That did not stop her from later refusing to step down in favor of the son who forcibly deposed her. Her willfulness would be recalled in the sometimes-scandalous actions taken by her sisters, female cousins, and, later, her granddaughter, Sibylla, the last queen of Jerusalem. Married to a “suitable” match as a teenager and then quickly widowed, Sibylla rebelled against royal expectations and married the landless son of a French lord. A complex historical narrative that celebrates female agency and a tale of family intrigue spanning generations, this book sheds light on the silenced women of a fascinating medieval bloodline.

Readable history for specialists and general audiences alike.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-64313-924-1

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2021

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Chronology, photographs and personal knowledge combine to make a memorable commemorative presentation.

FIVE DAYS IN NOVEMBER

Jackie Kennedy's secret service agent Hill and co-author McCubbin team up for a follow-up to Mrs. Kennedy and Me (2012) in this well-illustrated narrative of those five days 50 years ago when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

Since Hill was part of the secret service detail assigned to protect the president and his wife, his firsthand account of those days is unique. The chronological approach, beginning before the presidential party even left the nation's capital on Nov. 21, shows Kennedy promoting his “New Frontier” policy and how he was received by Texans in San Antonio, Houston and Fort Worth before his arrival in Dallas. A crowd of more than 8,000 greeted him in Houston, and thousands more waited until 11 p.m. to greet the president at his stop in Fort Worth. Photographs highlight the enthusiasm of those who came to the airports and the routes the motorcades followed on that first day. At the Houston Coliseum, Kennedy addressed the leaders who were building NASA for the planned moon landing he had initiated. Hostile ads and flyers circulated in Dallas, but the president and his wife stopped their motorcade to respond to schoolchildren who held up a banner asking the president to stop and shake their hands. Hill recounts how, after Lee Harvey Oswald fired his fatal shots, he jumped onto the back of the presidential limousine. He was present at Parkland Hospital, where the president was declared dead, and on the plane when Lyndon Johnson was sworn in. Hill also reports the funeral procession and the ceremony in Arlington National Cemetery. “[Kennedy] would have not wanted his legacy, fifty years later, to be a debate about the details of his death,” writes the author. “Rather, he would want people to focus on the values and ideals in which he so passionately believed.”

Chronology, photographs and personal knowledge combine to make a memorable commemorative presentation.

Pub Date: Nov. 19, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4767-3149-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

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In this meticulously detailed and evocative book, history comes alive, and it isn’t pretty.

THE ORDER OF THE DAY

A meditation on Austria’s capitulation to the Nazis. The book won the 2017 Prix Goncourt.

Vuillard (Sorrow of the Earth: Buffalo Bill, Sitting Bull and the Tragedy of Show Business, 2017, etc.) is also a filmmaker, and these episodic vignettes have a cinematic quality to them. “The play is about to begin,” he writes on the first page, “but the curtain won’t rise….Even though the twentieth of February 1933 was not just any other day, most people spent the morning grinding away, immersed in the great, decent fallacy of work, with its small gestures that enfold a silent, conventional truth and reduce the entire epic of our lives to a diligent pantomime.” Having established his command of tone, the author proceeds through devastating character portraits of Hitler and Goebbels, who seduced and bullied their appeasers into believing that short-term accommodations would pay long-term dividends. The cold calculations of Austria’s captains of industries and the pathetic negotiations of leaders who knew that their protestations were mainly for show suggest the complicated complicity of a country where young women screamed for Hitler as if he were a teen idol. “The bride was willing; this was no rape, as some have claimed, but a proper wedding,” writes Vuillard. Yet the consummation was by no means as smoothly triumphant as the Nazi newsreels have depicted. The army’s entry into Austria was less a blitzkrieg than a mechanical breakdown, one that found Hitler stalled behind the tanks that refused to move as those prepared to hail his emergence wondered what had happened. “For it wasn’t only a few isolated tanks that had broken down,” writes the author, “not just the occasional armored truck—no, it was the vast majority of the great German army, and the road was now entirely blocked. It was like a slapstick comedy!” In the aftermath, some of those most responsible for Austria’s fall faced death by hanging, but at least one received an American professorship.

In this meticulously detailed and evocative book, history comes alive, and it isn’t pretty.

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-59051-969-1

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Other Press

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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