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The French Wars of Religion, 1562-1629

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  • Posted April 4, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    French Wars of Religion revisited

    First, let me say that I truly love the book and the massive amount of detailed information presented. Second, let me say it is certainly one of the more difficult books to read and is more like a post-graduate dissertation with accompanying arguments rather than a book. Thirdly, it has got to be the home of the longest continuous sentences in any book I've ever read. I am not sure that I have ever read a book with sentences that cover 5 and six printed lines. Nor have I before read sentences that contain independent clauses, dependent clauses, and parenthetical phrases all within one sentence. There is no doubt that it is well researched and seems original in the presentation of the information. It appears imbalanced to me in that the Guises get their traditional kick from the author and the French are portrayed as being pig-headed in their response to what amounted to an invasion of their country, their home. It seemed a lot like blaming the rape victim for resisting the assailant. Imagine for a moment or so what your feelings would be if someone came into your church tomorrow and started destroying the things you believed in. How would you react? If someone cursed and reviled your family and friends as they practiced their faith, would you be a little upset? A lot maybe? France had a traditional history of involvement with the Catholic Church and the monarchy from at least the time of Charlemagne was closely connected. The book left me with several important questions: (1) who were the named instigators of the kinds of acts guaranteed to cause an equal and opposite reaction? Who were the named mob leaders and organnizers and how did they stand to profit? I get the impression that a lot of personal greed and ambition were behind the mob leaders stated goals and motives. Professor Davis comes closer when she talks about the "rites of violence" as does Barbara Dieendorf when she discusses the "transformation of private anger into public duty." Both are quoted in this book. What is important is that any good street cop engaed in riot control or mob control duties could point out some of the points after assembly that leads to violent acting out. Mob leaders have to be isolated and removed from the crowd to regain any sense of reason with the perpetrators of mob violence. A mob offers a degree of anonymity and if mob members perceive that the "authority" condones the action it becomes easiers for the mob member to justify his behavior even when violating his personal morals and values. It becomes a justification for atrocious behavior to include murder. Any true history buff will love this book and hopefully the good professor will do a third edition soon. I would purchase it for the information it contains. I would caution others that unless you are familiar with sentence construction and if you do not mind reading the never ending sentence, then this book may be for you as well. Reading it is work but sell satisfying work for those truly interested in the period.

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