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Renaissance lives : portraits of an age /

Main Author: Rabb, Theodore K.
Format: Book
Language: English
Published: New York : Pantheon Books, 1993
Edition: [1st ed.]
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Review by Booklist Review

Pantheon offers a pair of beautifully presented, edifying books as companions to two upcoming television series. Rabb, a Princeton professor of history, presents a gallery of 15 men and women who exemplified the Renaissance's transition from the old way people thought to the new. Rabb has arranged these trenchant, stylish portraits into categories based on social type, among them dissenter, artist, ruler, warrior, and explorer. Specific individuals limned here--all of whom played a significant role in the era's hallmark upheaval in knowledge and endeavor--include Titian, Teresa of Avila, Catherine de' Medici, and John Milton. "They were forging a new world," says Rabb, "but to do so they battled endlessly with themselves and their contemporaries. It is the sense of struggle, with its grave disappointments but also its extraordinary achievements, that gives the period its particular sheen." The appeal of this book will be immense.Winn is a history professor at Tufts University. With all the fluency with which Rabb wrought his fine book, Winn prepares a splendidly evocative course on Latin American history for North Americans. He reaches back in time to the ages of conquest and colonization, but places most of his emphasis on the late nineteenth and the twentieth centuries. Winn's purpose is to isolate the area's diversities as well as commonalities in the face of the incredible changes that have occurred in South and Central America and the Caribbean area since independence from Spain and Portugal. As Winn discusses such major factors contributing to these changes as the area's three great modern revolutions (Mexico in the 1910s, Cuba in 1959, and Nicaragua in 1979), the unkept promise of Argentina as a world economic power, and magical realism in Latin American fiction, the reader is treated to a perfectly polished and approachable narrative that--fulfilling its intention--is easy to learn from. Liberally illustrated, and certain to be in demand. ~--Brad Hooper

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

A companion volume to a PBS TV series, this collection of biographies examines the lives of 15 Renaissance personages and their accomplishments in relation to the enormous social upheavals that took place from the mid-1300s to the mid-1600s. Rabb ( The Struggle for Stability in Early Modern Europe ) has combined excellent scholarly research with splendidly crafted writing to provide accounts of both well-known and obscure Renaissance figures. Each life story highlights one facet of the transformations in religion, philosophy, the arts and the sciences that took place during this era. Theologian Jan Hus (1370?-1415) represents religious dissent; painter Titian (1487?-1576) and astronomer and physicist Galileo (1564-1642) were symbolic of the changing views of art and science; and the life of Gluckel of Hameln (1646-1724), a female Jewish merchant, reflects the economic revolution taking place. Enlightening and accessible. Illustrated. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review

A companion to the forthcoming five-part PBS series on the Renaissance, this terrifically exciting book should also draw a wide audience in the general reading public. It is a survey of the tremendous change the European world underwent from 1350 to 1700 through a study of 15 people (four of them women) as represenative social types. Rabb (history, Princeton) shows that the essence of history is change; he challenges the traditional thesis that the Renaissance was an elitist movement with slight impact on ordinary people. He provides fresh insight into the lives and works of religious reformers like John Hus and St. Theresa of Avila, the artists Titian and Artemetia Gentileschi, the scientist Galileo, and the explorer Walter Raleigh. The career of Gluckel of Hameln, a tireless businesswomen, mother of 13 children, and staunch defender of her Jewish faith, is perhaps the most fascinating in the book. Enhanced by a lucid, imaginative style and provocative observations, this book is refreshing proof that distinguished scholars have begun to sense responsibility to a larger audience outside of the half-dozen specialists in their fields. Highly recommended.-- Bennett D. Hill, Georgetown Univ., Washington, D.C. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by School Library Journal Review

YA-A companion to the television series, this book's immediacy and readability make these stories of Renaissance men and women accessible to modern readers. Each of the 15 lives examined here exemplifies the enormous diversity of that era. The book focuses on representatives of social types to show the age in a microcosm, and yet each of the individuals profiled is larger than life. They include not only the expected ``Renaissance Man'' Sir Walter Raleigh, but also less well-known individuals such as Ralph Josselin, a Protestant minister whose diaries give a detailed account of life as a country vicar. Gluckel of Hamlin typifies the limited role allowed to women and to Jews at the time; Artemisia Gentileschi exemplifies the courage and determination required of female artists; and Catherine de'Medici represents the rulers whose patronage of the arts is most often associated with this great age. The text is accompanied by black-and-white and full-color plates that depict the works of the great masters of the times, portraits of the subjects, and examples of the subjects' work. Educators who wish to show how economics, science, art, philosophy, and religion are interrelated will find this volume especially insightful.-Jackie Gropman, Richard Byrd Library, Springfield, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.