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Tigress of Forli: The Life of Caterina Sforza
Tigress of Forli: The Life of Caterina Sforza
Price: £2.99

5.0 out of 5 stars FINALLY a wonderful book on Caterina, 23 May 2013
Observing the fact that she was far more intelligent and courageous than her spouse, Caterina preferred to bear her father's name, Sforza, rather than her husband's (although, perhaps unknown to her, her father, Galeazzo Maria Sforze, was a rapist, torturer and mass murderer). But despite Caterina's intelligence and courage, Elizabeth Lev's book THE TIGRESS OF FORLI demonstrates once again the impossible role of being a truly free woman in a man's world. She was deflowered at age 10, by a man naturally, and spent her entire life bearing a man's children (Lev says she had 3 in one 2-year period, obviously impossible unless she had twins, which Lev passes in silence). Caterina was so beautiful that Botticelli portrays her in his fabulous The Primavera, but even then, her beauty comes to us through the hands of a man. Her most famous act was to show her privates, from the top of a fortress, when the men below threatened to kill her imprisoned--and deeply beloved--sons, saying something like `Who cares? With this I can create others'. Her husband assassinated, she went on to rule her lands, in the name of her young sons, brilliantly. One moving episode was her love for a handsome stable boy, a boy she'd fallen for when he was 15, whom she secretly married. Lev says that he had nothing to offer her `but his heart', forgetting, surely, his virile Italian ****. The boy was assassinated, but although the loss was devastating and her revenge Carthaginian, she found another young and handsome lad that she married. After years of felicity she was captured by Pope Alexander VI's son Cesare Borgia and used by him until sated. (Cesare might have been scum, but what a life HE led!) But before her capture Cesare, knowing Caterina's weakness for handsome boys--and Cesare was a mean dog in that category--tried to seduce here while showing his wares in front of her fortification, so sure of himself that he nearly got across the drawbridge on the end of which she was smiling alluringly, but feeling it rise under his feet, he rushed off just in time, saluting Caterina with verbal filth (and supposedly in no other language can one be as filthy as in Italian). It's sad that Caterina is so little known, much less so than Cleopatra although Caterina was as beautiful, as smart and certainly braver, but alas for her she had no real opposition: her first husband was an idiot, the stable boy was dull-witted (this is not a slur against stable boys in general, as I appreciate them as much as other guys appreciate them). And Cesare, fearless stud that he was, was no Marc Antony and no Jules Cesar. The sinister history of women continues down to the present, even here in France, home of the Rights of MAN, where women were finally `allowed' to vote only in 1944. My own books can be found on Amazon under Michael Hone.


The Gothic King - a Biography of Henry III
The Gothic King - a Biography of Henry III
by John Paul Davis
Edition: Paperback
Price: £17.99

2 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Henry led a dull life indeed, 21 May 2013
While reading books on history (around 5 per week) I note personages who might be of interest so that I can feed my reading habit. By the time I receive the lives of these people, I've often forgotten why I ordered them, although I know that I certainly had a good reason. So when John Paul Davis' THE GOTHIC KING: A BIOGRAPHY OF HENRY III arrived, I settled in for a good time. I'd recently finished a number of books of the other Henrys, especially Henry II, my favorite, and his wife Eleanor and son Richard Coeur de Lion. I also loved the life of Henry VII, the part that involved the boy who claimed to be Richard III's son (and therefore a threat to Henry VII), a story told in the fabulous book by Wroe, PERKIN, and Weir's wonderful THE PRINCES IN THE TOWER. But for the life of me I can't understand why I ordered the book on Henry III. Davis certainly deserves credit for writing it, but Henry's reign was devoid of interest. Although I reread many books several times (Maupassant, for example, I reread every year), this will not be one of them. I'm nonetheless awarding 5 stars because the book is well written and well researched. You can find my own books on Amazon under Michael Hone.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 19, 2014 9:40 AM BST


Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan
Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan
by William Dalrymple
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £20.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Slow going, 5 May 2013
William Dalrymple's THE RETURN OF A KING is about Afghanistan, which means it's about death in its most horrible forms. A mouth is stuffed with gunpowder and the head blown up; a Shah's eyes are pieced: the hot point of a needle `'quickly spilled the wine of his sight from the cup of his eyes;'' children are strapped to the mouth of a cannon and blasted away before their parents suffer the same fate; soldiers `'slice off the genitals of the fallen and place them in the corpses' mouths''; displeasure is shown by systematically cutting off servants' ears, noses and privates--but sparing their lives so that they can continue to serve; others are scalped. Afghans appreciated fruit, having 40 kinds of grapes, and other fruits, such as those described by the renowned poet Khushal Khan `'There is a boy across the river with a bottom like a peach/But alas! I cannot swim.'' The book concerns the placing of Shah Shuja on his throne. (Another excellent book on the same subject is Ben Macintyre's THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING.) The reading of Dalrymple's book goes slowly until around page 300 (no fault of Dalrymple's, it's just that the soldiers led incredibly boring lives, unable to function in the heat, pampered by innumerable servants) when all hell breaks out. Because of English arrogance, poor policy decisions and their turning Kabul into an open-air brothel, the Afghans finally rose up and slaughtered them, scenes involving children which had to be skipped over. Among Afghans themselves, the best policy seems to have always been to butcher one's enemy, Afghan or other, a policy taken for granted among their own but seemingly never understood by outsiders--today as yesteryear. Like a hornet's nest (or a warning not to touch a hot stove), they really should be left alone. My own books can be found on Amazon under Michael Hone.


Explorers of the Nile: The Triumph and Tragedy of a Great Victorian Adventure Jeal, Tim ( Author ) Aug-14-2012 Paperback
Explorers of the Nile: The Triumph and Tragedy of a Great Victorian Adventure Jeal, Tim ( Author ) Aug-14-2012 Paperback
by Tim Jeal
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, 5 May 2013
Tim Jeal's EXPLORERS OF THE NILE is a noble successor of Moorehead's THE WHITE NILE. No earthly power can explain the unfathomable thick-headedness of the early explorers. Some were nearly saints, as was Livingston (who on one trip reread his bible four times), Livingston who refused to believe that a people he frequented were cannibals until they ate his porter; who admired the red feathers worn by another tribe, until he learned that each represented a man killed; and who hated the Arab slave traders until one nursed him back to life. (They Arabs, aided by blacks, were savages who immediately dashed in the heads of slow or sick slaves and, in one incredible case, an Arab cut off the head of his ill mistress, who was holding them back, so that no one else would ever have access to her.) The explorers died like flies from dysentery, murder (Jeal relates the death of a millionairess, hacked to pieces by Tuaregs) and malaria. Jeal goes on about Burton, a priapus who changed girls as one changes one's shirt (a French saying meaning often), who possessed 29 languages and translated the Kama Sutra into English, adding ample paragraphs from his own experiences. (I've just finished a whole book on Burton by Edward Rice, and, honestly, I prefer Jeal's shorter exposé). Jack Speke was Burton's traveling companion and acolyte, much younger, six feet tall with blue eyes, whom Burton tried to seduce, claimed Speke, an incident totally ignored by Rice. It was Speke, to Burton's distress and humiliation, who discovered the source of the Nile. Burton is far more renowned than Speke because Burton was a social butterfly, Speke not; because he had written a dozen books, Speke not; because he had known countless girls and had translated erotic works of art (although, as a French lad, I prefer the live Net versions of the Kama Sutra). I'll stop here but there's far more in these wonderful 500 pages. My own books can be found on Amazon under Michael Hone.


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5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, 5 May 2013
Tim Jeal's EXPLORERS OF THE NILE is a noble successor of Moorehead's THE WHITE NILE. No earthly power can explain the unfathomable thick-headedness of the early explorers. Some were nearly saints, as was Livingston (who on one trip reread his bible four times), Livingston who refused to believe that a people he frequented were cannibals until they ate his porter; who admired the red feathers worn by another tribe, until he learned that each represented a man killed; and who hated the Arab slave traders until one nursed him back to life. (They Arabs, aided by blacks, were savages who immediately dashed in the heads of slow or sick slaves and, in one incredible case, an Arab cut off the head of his ill mistress, who was holding them back, so that no one else would ever have access to her.) The explorers died like flies from dysentery, murder (Jeal relates the death of a millionairess, hacked to pieces by Tuaregs) and malaria. Jeal goes on about Burton, a priapus who changed girls as one changes one's shirt (a French saying meaning often), who possessed 29 languages and translated the Kama Sutra into English, adding ample paragraphs from his own experiences. (I've just finished a whole book on Burton by Edward Rice, and, honestly, I prefer Jeal's shorter exposé). Jack Speke was Burton's traveling companion and acolyte, much younger, six feet tall with blue eyes, whom Burton tried to seduce, claimed Speke, an incident totally ignored by Rice. It was Speke, to Burton's distress and humiliation, who discovered the source of the Nile. Burton is far more renowned than Speke because Burton was a social butterfly, Speke not; because he had written a dozen books, Speke not; because he had known countless girls and had translated erotic works of art (although, as a French lad, I prefer the live Net versions of the Kama Sutra). I'll stop here but there's far more in these wonderful 500 pages. My own books can be found on Amazon under Michael Hone.


Explorers of the Nile: The Triumph and Tragedy of a Great Victorian Adventure
Explorers of the Nile: The Triumph and Tragedy of a Great Victorian Adventure
by Tim Jeal
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.24

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, 5 May 2013
Tim Jeal's EXPLORERS OF THE NILE is a noble successor of Moorehead's THE WHITE NILE. No earthly power can explain the unfathomable thick-headedness of the early explorers. Some were nearly saints, as was Livingston (who on one trip reread his bible four times), Livingston who refused to believe that a people he frequented were cannibals until they ate his porter; who admired the red feathers worn by another tribe, until he learned that each represented a man killed; and who hated the Arab slave traders until one nursed him back to life. (They Arabs, aided by blacks, were savages who immediately dashed in the heads of slow or sick slaves and, in one incredible case, an Arab cut off the head of his ill mistress, who was holding them back, so that no one else would ever have access to her.) The explorers died like flies from dysentery, murder (Jeal relates the death of a millionairess, hacked to pieces by Tuaregs) and malaria. Jeal goes on about Burton, a priapus who changed girls as one changes one's shirt (a French saying meaning often), who possessed 29 languages and translated the Kama Sutra into English, adding ample paragraphs from his own experiences. (I've just finished a whole book on Burton by Edward Rice, and, honestly, I prefer Jeal's shorter exposé). Jack Speke was Burton's traveling companion and acolyte, much younger, six feet tall with blue eyes, whom Burton tried to seduce, claimed Speke, an incident totally ignored by Rice. It was Speke, to Burton's distress and humiliation, who discovered the source of the Nile. Burton is far more renowned than Speke because Burton was a social butterfly, Speke not; because he had written a dozen books, Speke not; because he had known countless girls and had translated erotic works of art (although, as a French lad, I prefer the live Net versions of the Kama Sutra). I'll stop here but there's far more in these wonderful 500 pages. My own books can be found on Amazon under Michael Hone.


Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton: The Secret Agent Who Made the Pilgrimage to Mecca, Discovered the "Kama Sutra" and Brought the "Arabian Nights" to the West
Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton: The Secret Agent Who Made the Pilgrimage to Mecca, Discovered the "Kama Sutra" and Brought the "Arabian Nights" to the West
by Edward Rice
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars The definitive Burton, 27 April 2013
In the Introduction of CAPTAIN SIR RICHARD FRANCIS BURTON Edward Rice tells us that if Burton had been the invention of a fictional work, no one would have believed it, and--even in the age of marvel comics--it's true. For a young man like myself, Burton was not only an adventurer, a spy and an explorer, but also the discoverer of the Kama Sutra and the Arabian Nights, pas une mince affaire (I'm French). As Burton's parents had money and incredible wanderlust, at puberty Burton and his brother had enough pocket change to not only offer themselves girls in such poverty stricken, lecherous and diseased haunts as Naples, but complete orgies. Sexually liberated, both barely-post-puberty boys were beyond their parent's control. Burton joins the army in India where he becomes fluent in 19 languages, one of which was Sanskrit. After having himself circumcised (which, I've heard, hurts like hell when one's an adult) he goes on a hajj to Mecca, forbidden to foreigners, a description that goes on for page after page, detailed right down to the removal of all bodily hair, and I mean ALL hair. He travels to Somali where the girls are sown up to protect their virginity, a passage forced by their husbands who, for a week, day and night, find pleasure in the resulting blood, a description that also goes on for page after page, disgusting and hypnotizing (afterwards, the men are said not to be able to walk {!?!?}). On his way back from African Harar (the first European to have been there), he was attacked by natives, sustaining eleven wounds, one of which was a spear that pierced his face from cheek to cheek. Miraculously making it back to an English camp, he was found to have syphilis in the second degree, not surprising for someone who'd lost his virginity at age 13 in a brothel. He goes off to the Crimean War, then, severely ill, he returns to England where he writes several books before traveling to America where he tries to learn Ute, shaves his head so as not to be scalped, and studies mormonism chez les mormons. Rice states that Burton's book on the States is so long that it borders on the boring, and the same can be said about Burton's travels that, again, go on and on. Not even forty (!!!) he returns to Africa, the Lake Victoria region to be exact, which is the place I've chosen to end this review.
An interviewer has said that this is the definitive Burton, and I can believe it. (On the other hand, I've just finished Meyer's THE BORGIA which, at 430 pages, should have gone on for at least a thousand more, so numerous are the incredible personages in that story.) My own books can be found on Amazon under Michael Hone.


Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton: The Secret Agent Who Made the Pilgrimage to Mecca, Discovered the Kama Sutra, Brought the Arabian Nights to the
Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton: The Secret Agent Who Made the Pilgrimage to Mecca, Discovered the Kama Sutra, Brought the Arabian Nights to the
by Edward Rice
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars The definitive Burton, 27 April 2013
In the Introduction of CAPTAIN SIR RICHARD FRANCIS BURTON Edward Rice tells us that if Burton had been the invention of a fictional work, no one would have believed it, and--even in the age of marvel comics--it's true. For a young man like myself, Burton was not only an adventurer, a spy and an explorer, but also the discoverer of the Kama Sutra and the Arabian Nights, pas une mince affaire (I'm French). As Burton's parents had money and incredible wanderlust, at puberty Burton and his brother had enough pocket change to not only offer themselves girls in such poverty stricken, lecherous and diseased haunts as Naples, but complete orgies. Sexually liberated, both barely-post-puberty boys were beyond their parent's control. Burton joins the army in India where he becomes fluent in 19 languages, one of which was Sanskrit. After having himself circumcised (which, I've heard, hurts like hell when one's an adult) he goes on a hajj to Mecca, forbidden to foreigners, a description that goes on for page after page, detailed right down to the removal of all bodily hair, and I mean ALL hair. He travels to Somali where the girls are sown up to protect their virginity, a passage forced by their husbands who, for a week, day and night, find pleasure in the resulting blood, a description that also goes on for page after page, disgusting and hypnotizing (afterwards, the men are said not to be able to walk {!?!?}). On his way back from African Harar (the first European to have been there), he was attacked by natives, sustaining eleven wounds, one of which was a spear that pierced his face from cheek to cheek. Miraculously making it back to an English camp, he was found to have syphilis in the second degree, not surprising for someone who'd lost his virginity at age 13 in a brothel. He goes off to the Crimean War, then, severely ill, he returns to England where he writes several books before traveling to America where he tries to learn Ute, shaves his head so as not to be scalped, and studies mormonism chez les mormons. Rice states that Burton's book on the States is so long that it borders on the boring, and the same can be said about Burton's travels that, again, go on and on. Not even forty (!!!) he returns to Africa, the Lake Victoria region to be exact, which is the place I've chosen to end this review.
An interviewer has said that this is the definitive Burton, and I can believe it. (On the other hand, I've just finished Meyer's THE BORGIA which, at 430 pages, should have gone on for at least a thousand more, so numerous are the incredible personages in that story.) My own books can be found on Amazon under Michael Hone.


Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton: A Biography
Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton: A Biography
by Edward Rice
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.98

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The definitive Burton, 27 April 2013
In the Introduction of CAPTAIN SIR RICHARD FRANCIS BURTON Edward Rice tells us that if Burton had been the invention of a fictional work, no one would have believed it, and--even in the age of marvel comics--it's true. For a young man like myself, Burton was not only an adventurer, a spy and an explorer, but also the discoverer of the Kama Sutra and the Arabian Nights, pas une mince affaire (I'm French). As Burton's parents had money and incredible wanderlust, at puberty Burton and his brother had enough pocket change to not only offer themselves girls in such poverty stricken, lecherous and diseased haunts as Naples, but complete orgies. Sexually liberated, both barely-post-puberty boys were beyond their parent's control. Burton joins the army in India where he becomes fluent in 19 languages, one of which was Sanskrit. After having himself circumcised (which, I've heard, hurts like hell when one's an adult) he goes on a hajj to Mecca, forbidden to foreigners, a description that goes on for page after page, detailed right down to the removal of all bodily hair, and I mean ALL hair. He travels to Somali where the girls are sown up to protect their virginity, a passage forced by their husbands who, for a week, day and night, find pleasure in the resulting blood, a description that also goes on for page after page, disgusting and hypnotizing (afterwards, the men are said not to be able to walk {!?!?}). On his way back from African Harar (the first European to have been there), he was attacked by natives, sustaining eleven wounds, one of which was a spear that pierced his face from cheek to cheek. Miraculously making it back to an English camp, he was found to have syphilis in the second degree, not surprising for someone who'd lost his virginity at age 13 in a brothel. He goes off to the Crimean War, then, severely ill, he returns to England where he writes several books before traveling to America where he tries to learn Ute, shaves his head so as not to be scalped, and studies mormonism chez les mormons. Rice states that Burton's book on the States is so long that it borders on the boring, and the same can be said about Burton's travels that, again, go on and on. Not even forty (!!!) he returns to Africa, the Lake Victoria region to be exact, which is the place I've chosen to end this review.
An interviewer has said that this is the definitive Burton, and I can believe it. (On the other hand, I've just finished Meyer's THE BORGIA which, at 430 pages, should have gone on for at least a thousand more, so numerous are the incredible personages in that story.) My own books can be found on Amazon under Michael Hone.


The Borgias: The Hidden History
The Borgias: The Hidden History
by G. J. Meyer
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £17.45

1 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Even-handed but incomplete, 26 April 2013
The first Borgia to become pope was Calixtus, a virtuous Borgia--the exception that confirms the rule--who mounted an army against the invading Turks, Turks that stole thousands of young boys who grew into ardent Moslem warriors. Thanks to heroic generals from Romania to Albania--given the credit they deserve, thanks to G.J. Meyer's book THE BORGIAS--the barbarians at the gates were defeated. Before and after the incredibly hard-working Rodrigo Borgia became Pope Alexander VI, his sexual peccadilloes--concerning both `'boys and girls, but mostly girls''--were largely dismissed as boys-will-be-boys joie de vivre. (Meyer's chapter entitled IL PAPA will keep you glued to your seat, such was the despicable history of many of these saint men.) Meyer's treatment of the Borgias--what they were supposed to have done or not done--is perfectly even-handed, very far way from authors who have Cesare in a hot tube (!!!) with a boy and Pope Alexander encouraging his son to perform insect on his sister by gently patting his behind.
Caro's fabulous life of LBJ, totaling so far around 3000 pages, makes Meyer's 430 a thin volume indeed in comparison, especially for this array of characters that absolutely defy the imagination. An example: In Christopher Hibbert's THE BORGIAS AND THEIR ENEMIES we read this: `'Cesar had fallen sick again of that illness of his. Now the flowers (as the syphilitic rashes were euphemistically known) are starting to bloom again.'' An anecdote among a 100,000 not in Meyer's book, one that Caro would not have missed. Hopefully some day another Caro will give the Borgias the space they deserve. Worst still: The death of Astori Manfredi, Prince of Faenza, at age 17, a boy described as the most beautiful in Italy (artists came from all around to paint him), was passed over with just a few words by Meyer, despite the fact that the boy had been imprisoned by Cesare (and was, moreover, the lad in the hot tub), then found drowned in the Tiber, bound to his young brother. All the rumors concerning his death were ignored by Meyer. My own books can be found on Amazon under Michael Hone.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 24, 2014 2:03 PM BST


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