Power: Men and Women, Black and White

"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." -Lord Acton Plantation owners in the American South prior to the Civil War had godlike control over their slaves, wives and children. This may not come as a surprise, but Marlen Suyapa Bodden's The Wedding Gift dramatizes it vividly.  Told alternately by Sarah, a slave, and Theodora, the wife of a…
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Equal to Any Man, Second to None

While England and Spain were still building their empires, the Iranians had already solidified theirs and were flourishing.  Equal of the Sun by Anita Amirrezvani tells the story of one of the great women of the great powers of the day.  Pari Khan Khanoom has been assisting her father in running the Safavid dynasty since she…
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Art, War and Monumental Men

The guides on the tour of Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria will tell you all about how and why it was built and about Mad King Ludwig, who thought it up. They neglect to mention, however, that it was a prime destination for the art the Nazis looted from France.  The Nazis hid art they coveted…
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Freely Giving to Mother Theresa

Mother Theresa is a widely revered and quoted figure among Catholics, Protestants, and many other faith traditions. But what was she really like? And what was it like to follow her? In An Unquenchable Thirst Mary Johnson gives us her story.  Taking the the name Donata (meaning "freely given"), she takes us over 20 years from her…
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When Sweet Is Not Enough

As Annabel Lyon’s The Sweet Girl depicts, a respectable woman’s life in ancient Greece was very circumscribed. She had to be veiled and her name was not to be mentioned in public even if she was the daughter of Aristotle, the great philosopher and scientist. Pythias, or Pytho, as her family calls her, still leads an…
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A Coyote Among Men

If you are into urban fantasy and you haven't picked up the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs, you're missing a treat.  Mercy is a werecoyote, or a "walker" as she would have it, one of the last of her kind. She grew up with werewolves, and doesn't have the fear of them that perhaps prudence…
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Between God and Rome

When I read The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman a few months ago, I felt like I had to tell everyone about it.  Taking place in Israel during the first century C.E., it tells the story of the siege of Masada through the eyes of its women. Half the battle is just to get to this fortess…
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Nine Years of a Life in Death

In Sheri Booker's memoir Nine Years Under, Deacon Wylie has a proposition for this young member of his church: Why not work at his funeral home? Still reeling from her aunt Mary's death, Sheri agrees, and so begins a nine-year journey into the business of grief.  At first, Sheri thinks it's just going to be…
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