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The Italian Wars 1494-1559: War, State and Society in Early Modern Europe (Modern Wars In Perspective)
The Italian Wars 1494-1559: War, State and Society in Early Modern Europe (Modern Wars In Perspective)
by Michael Edward Mallett
Edition: Paperback
Price: £24.99

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars TOO SHORT, 11 July 2014
I believe that only five stars are possible for this wonderfully researched book--The Italian Wars 1494 – 1559 by Michael Mallett and Christine Shaw--concerning a very complex subject, the Renaissance or Italian Wars. The book is nearly a day-by-day, blow-by-blow description of this vastly important period. It’s a long book, very detailed, but in ways, for me, not nearly detailed enough. For example, there’s nothing on Charles VIII’s meeting with Pope Alexander VI, whom he at first tried to depose and then ended up on his knees, slavering over the pope’s ring. Alexander handed over the Turk Djem to Charles but we’re told absolutely nothing about Djem, even though his story is incredibly fascinating. We’re told that terrible massacres took place, that the vanquishers feasted, but nothing on the rivers of blood and semen that was an integral part. Charles himself had a premature death, totally unique, but we don’t learn how he died. In other words, the book should have been twice as long, and anecdotes à la Herodotus, would have kept us on the edge of our seats because what took place backstage was simply staggering. My own books can be found on Amazon under Michael Hone.


Beatrice's Spell: The Enduring Legend of Beatrice Cenci
Beatrice's Spell: The Enduring Legend of Beatrice Cenci
Price: £6.49

5.0 out of 5 stars FINALLY A BOOK ON THE CENCI MURDER, 20 Jun. 2014
I discovered the story of Beatrice Cenci in Desmond Seward’s wonderful CARAVAGGIO. I immediately went to Amazon where I found Belinda Jack’s BEATRICE’S SPELL, thanks to which I have far more information on the Cenci. I won’t go into the murder and the horrible consequences that befell the murderers, but Belinda Jack is here for that and no one could do a better job. The story takes just 36 pages of her book. The remaining 149 are on other people—Shelley, Melville, etc.—who were, in one way or another, touched by Beatrice’s martyrdom (the reason why the book is entitled Beatrice’s SPELL). Belinda Jack reproduces a wonderful painting of Byron, in which he is absolutely gorgeous, although he doesn’t merit a chapter in the book. She doesn’t go into Melville’s homosexuality, for which he suffered the tortures of hell while Byron was in Greece bragging about the 300 boys he’d had there. Melville’s Moby Dick bores me to tears and I’m certain that it’s success was due to the real-life sinking of some whale boats which made all the headlines just before Moby Dick came out. My own books can be found on Amazon under Michael Hone.


Beatrice's Spell: The Enduring Legend of Beatrice Cenci
Beatrice's Spell: The Enduring Legend of Beatrice Cenci
by Belinda Jack
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars FINALLY A BOOK ON THE CENCI MURDER, 20 Jun. 2014
I discovered the story of Beatrice Cenci in Desmond Seward’s wonderful CARAVAGGIO. I immediately went to Amazon where I found Belinda Jack’s BEATRICE’S SPELL, thanks to which I have far more information on the Cenci. I won’t go into the murder and the horrible consequences that befell the murderers, but Belinda Jack is here for that and no one could do a better job. The story takes just 36 pages of her book. The remaining 149 are on other people—Shelley, Melville, etc.—who were, in one way or another, touched by Beatrice’s martyrdom (the reason why the book is entitled Beatrice’s SPELL). Belinda Jack reproduces a wonderful painting of Byron, in which he is absolutely gorgeous, although he doesn’t merit a chapter in the book. She doesn’t go into Melville’s homosexuality, for which he suffered the tortures of hell while Byron was in Greece bragging about the 300 boys he’d had there. Melville’s Moby Dick bores me to tears and I’m certain that it’s success was due to the real-life sinking of some whale boats which made all the headlines just before Moby Dick came out. My own books can be found on Amazon under Michael Hone.


A Terrible Splendor: Three Extraordinary Men, a World Poised for War, and the Greatest Tennis Match Ever Played
A Terrible Splendor: Three Extraordinary Men, a World Poised for War, and the Greatest Tennis Match Ever Played
Price: £7.76

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars TILDEN : HOMOEROTIC STAR, 18 Jun. 2014
In my own books on homoeroticism I’ve followed the lives of the men and boys who preferred other men and boys, from Ancient Greece to the end of the Renaissance. The life of Tilden falls squarely in the material I cover, if not the period. He spent the equivalent, in today’s dollars, of a million on his ball boys. Frank Deford’s BIG BILL TILDEN gives us not only the wondrous story of Tilden’s life and career, but fascinating anecdotes, such as Nabokov in LOLITA who talks about a famous tennis player named Ned Litam and ‘’his harem of ball boys.’’ Ned Litam, backwards, spells Ma Tilden. During a train ride to a match Tilden went up to one of his players and said, ‘’Fritzi did the cutest thing this morning. He took $400 from my wallet and bought himself a watch.’’ $400 in Depression Age money was a fortune. Tilden was said to have had a huge list of ball boys who lived throughout the U.S., nearly always boys of German origin, or from Germany itself, all of whom he called Fritzi. He was detested by the public and once an empire even left his chair and didn’t return. The moment Deford began to describe a match I cringed. Personally, I haven’t seen a tennis match since the retirement of the incomparable Borg. But Deford’s matches make for couldn’t-put-the-book-down splendor. Tilden played thousands upon thousands of matches, never once showing himself naked in the locker room, even if this meant returning to his hotel soaked with sweat. Alas, he became even more irascible in later years, and turned fruity, a sad ending for someone like me who likes his men and boys virile. Deford’s book is a must, and a second-hand copy can be found on Amazon dirt-cheap. Marshal Jon Fisher’s A TERRIBLE SPLENDOR is more expensive but just as necessary as Deford’s. Of special importance is his coverage of Gottfried Cramm, one of God’s most gorgeous creatures, as well as being an immense tennis star. Fisher takes us into pre-war Berlin where boys were more than plentiful and as cheap as one of Deford’s books. Tilden played against Cramm and then managed the boy, far younger than himself. Cramm’s end was tragic; Tilden just dropped instantly dead from a heart attack: which means that the guy was lucky right up to the end. My own books on homoeroticism through the ages can be found on Amazon under Michael Hone.


Big Bill Tilden: The Triumphs and the Tragedy (Hall of Fame Edition Book 2)
Big Bill Tilden: The Triumphs and the Tragedy (Hall of Fame Edition Book 2)
Price: £6.11

5.0 out of 5 stars TILDEN: HOMOEROTIC STAR, 18 Jun. 2014
In my own books on homoeroticism I’ve followed the lives of the men and boys who preferred other men and boys, from Ancient Greece to the end of the Renaissance. The life of Tilden falls squarely in the material I cover, if not the period. He spent the equivalent, in today’s dollars, of a million on his ball boys. Frank Deford’s BIG BILL TILDEN gives us not only the wondrous story of Tilden’s life and career, but fascinating anecdotes, such as Nabokov in LOLITA who talks about a famous tennis player named Ned Litam and ‘’his harem of ball boys.’’ Ned Litam, backwards, spells Ma Tilden. During a train ride to a match Tilden went up to one of his players and said, ‘’Fritzi did the cutest thing this morning. He took $400 from my wallet and bought himself a watch.’’ $400 in Depression Age money was a fortune. Tilden was said to have had a huge list of ball boys who lived throughout the U.S., nearly always boys of German origin, or from Germany itself, all of whom he called Fritzi. He was detested by the public and once an empire even left his chair and didn’t return. The moment Deford began to describe a match I cringed. Personally, I haven’t seen a tennis match since the retirement of the incomparable Borg. But Deford’s matches make for couldn’t-put-the-book-down splendor. Tilden played thousands upon thousands of matches, never once showing himself naked in the locker room, even if this meant returning to his hotel soaked with sweat. Alas, he became even more irascible in later years, and turned fruity, a sad ending for someone like me who likes his men and boys virile. Deford’s book is a must, and a second-hand copy can be found on Amazon dirt-cheap. Marshal Jon Fisher’s A TERRIBLE SPLENDOR is more expensive but just as necessary as Deford’s. Of special importance is his coverage of Gottfried Cramm, one of God’s most gorgeous creatures, as well as being an immense tennis star. Fisher takes us into pre-war Berlin where boys were more than plentiful and as cheap as one of Deford’s books. Tilden played against Cramm and then managed the boy, far younger than himself. Cramm’s end was tragic; Tilden just dropped instantly dead from a heart attack: which means that the guy was lucky right up to the end. My own books on homoeroticism through the ages can be found on Amazon under Michael Hone.


Caravaggio: A Passionate Life
Caravaggio: A Passionate Life
by Desmond Seward
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Homophobic, 7 Jun. 2014
Seward’s book is beautifully written, sentences and paragraphs melt smoothly one into the other with never the slightest hesitation, nothing to take the reader’s mind off a story so fully researched. Seward gives us not only the facts, but he puts them into context: we learn what Rome was really like during the end of the 1500s and early 1600s, the density, the crime, down to the odors. We learn how people greatest each other, what they wore, their mind sets, why they could never allow themselves a moment of free thought concerning even the existence of God. The books is a sans faute except for the essential, Caravaggio’s sexuality. Seward doesn’t seem to know that Renaissance man took his pleasure where he found it, and as girls were hidden away in Brinks-like security, they found it among themselves. They all did, from the great Lorenzo Il Magnifico down to the most vile of them all, Pope Alexander VI and his gutter-minded son Cesare Borgia. Seward wants us to believe that Caravaggio was perhaps bisexual in a passing fashion as a mindless lad, something he grew out of. The truth, as Seward should know, is that concepts like homosexuality, heterosexuality and bisexuality didn’t even come into existence until 300 years later. It was an epoch strange to us because today we really do define ourselves as being one of the three. Back then one just didn’t think in those terms. If a man was randy in ancient Rome and a slave boy was handy, it was he the recipient of the man’s lust. During the Renaissance too one took what was available. Rare were those, like Michelangelo and da Vinci, who engaged exclusively in male-male relations, just as in ancient Rome Trajan and Hadrian were themselves rarities, men who really may have died virgin--in today’s sexual parlance concerning those who never know a woman. Those of you who have seen Caravaggio’s The Musicians know this: in close-ups two of the boys are shown in the throes of orgasm, their eyes glazed over, the lips barely parted, the tongue, in near-erection, just visible. This is homoerotic art at its most sublime. A disoriented lad going through passing bisexuality doesn’t paint something like that. Caravaggio had two (nearly) life-long lovers, Minniti and Cecco. There was no one under their beds to verify the fact for Mr. Seward, but this was the way of the world during the Italian Renaissance. Other than that, I’m giving Seward five stars because I personally find his Caravaggio at least as good as Graham-Dixon’s much-vaunted (and deservedly so) Caravaggio. My own books can be found on Amazon under Michael Hone.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 26, 2015 3:28 AM GMT


Caravaggio (Taschen Basic Art Series)
Caravaggio (Taschen Basic Art Series)
by Giles Lambert
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Homoerotic art at its most sublime, 19 May 2014
Gilles Lambert’s CARAVAGGIO is short on text, but for that you have Andrew Graham-Dixon magnificent Caravaggio, the best biography written to this day. Nowhere will you find more superb reproductions than in Lambert’s book. Even better, you have incredibly intelligent close-ups, those of two boys in Caravaggio’s Musicians, for example, showing them in the throes of orgasm, their eyes glazed over, the lips barely parted, the tongue just visible, homoerotic art at its most sublime. My own books can be found on Amazon under Michael Hone.


Herod the Great
Herod the Great
by Michael Grant
Edition: Hardcover

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Herod deserves to be rediscovered, 12 Dec. 2013
This review is from: Herod the Great (Hardcover)
When I received Michael Grant's HEROD THE GREAT I was reluctant to read it. The book looked and smelled old, and indeed I discovered that it had been written in 1971. The multiple illustrations throughout the book looked as if they'd been taken in the 1800s--old, scratchy and out of date. Because I had lots of other history books to get through, I put off reading Grant's for several months. Then I started the first page and was immediately captured. Well, it's not the prose of Alison Weir but it's the next best thing. Clear mental images, history clearly recounted. Like Grant, I wound up asking myself why Herod has received such little press since his death--if you don't count the supposed massacred of the innocents. An original thinker, an unquenchable builder, Herod deserves this very good book and, like the Americas, the rediscovery of the Columbusian Grant. My own books can be found on Amazon under Michael Hone.


Richard the Lionheart: The Mighty Crusader
Richard the Lionheart: The Mighty Crusader
Price: £5.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Complete but far too short, 3 Dec. 2013
David Miller's RICHARD THE LIONHEART is a very short work, 200 pages, on Richard's crusade into the Holy Land. The book is short but complete. I've read a number of other works on the subject, and have come across, here, details and facts that I'm discovering for the first time.
Personally, I much prefer the far more complete books dedicated to Richard, such as the wonderful RICHARD AND JOHN by Frank McLynn, the equally wonderful ELEANOR OF AQUITAINE by Alison Weir (a writer whose every book is a marvel) and BLONDEL'S SON by David Boyle.
My own books can be found on Amazon under Michael Hone.


The Emperor Hadrian
The Emperor Hadrian
by Thorsten Opper
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For every coffee table, 23 Sept. 2013
This review is from: The Emperor Hadrian (Hardcover)
When Thorsten Opper's HADRIAN, EMPIRE AND CONFLICT arrived I could hardly lift it, so thick are the 250 pages, the most gorgeous pages I personally have ever had between my hands, with gorgeous photos of Hadrian, perhaps a 100 or more, and equally gorgeous pictures covering every aspect of Roman life, right down to brooms. And maps, gorgeous maps, that clarify the position of every country and war zone (in other books on Hadrian, for example, I had to go to Wikipedia to found out exactly where, in Spain, Hadrian had been born (Italica). The skeptics among you are thinking BUT, there must be a BUT. Well, the only BUT is: but the story of Hadrian as told by Opper is bare-bones history to the extreme. There are few quotes from ancient historians who give us a look into Hadrian as a person, the small things like the words he and his soldiers sang as they marched into or out of battle, rhymes as filthy as only the Latin language (and modern Italian) was (is) capable of. At the same time, Opper seems strangely certain of facts that other historians doubt. Going back to my first example, Italica, all other historians (and Wikipedia) claim that he was born in either Rome or in Italica. They claim that Hadrian's parents wanted him born in Rome in order to make him a recognized citizen of the city. Others say that when he was appointed spokesman for Trajan the senators laughed because he had an accent, perhaps indicating that he could not speak everyday Roman-style Latin because he wasn't born there. There are also few indications of what led up to an event in Hadrian's life, and fewer indications of what were the consequences of the events once Hadrian was no longer there. One feels abandoned on an island! Luckily for me, I've read dozens of books on Rome and am therefore able to fill in the gaps from memory (or go back to my books when memory fails me). Opper suggests that Antinous may have `'only been'' Hadrian's hunting companion; as a homophile I believe in their physical intimacy, yet the pages devoted to the Bithynian boy are beautiful, as are the sumptuous photos. This magnificent book should be on every coffee table, along with fabulous picture books on Van Gogh, et al, works I can't offer myself as I don't have a coffee table. My own works of art can be found on Amazon under Michael Hone.


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