Have you noticed I seem to have an interest for woman in history? I never really realised it until I started doing these blog posts I know I have a penchant for a historical biography, but the ratio of male to female historical biographies I have read is very heavily weighted on the female side, that had never struck me before. It all started with a library book about Amy Johnson, the more I read the more my list of heroines and women through the years grew. Now I am not saying that history has never been unkind to a man, but it does seem to feel a need to make powerful, pioneering and influential women into demons, maybe this it what draws me to them, to see what the real story behind the popular myths are.
Cleopatra A Life by Stacy Schiff – Cleopatra is maybe an exception to that rule. Carry on Films, Elizabeth Taylor, the love of Mark Anthony and baths of milk instantly spring to mind, well mine at least. It could be said that history has been kind to her, it could be said, but no the point is missed once more if that is only how popular history remembers her. While many have fallen into the simplicity of painting her as a beautiful queen with a poetic death she was far, far more than that. A powerful monarch, a major player in world politics, a shrewd and astute ruler. This is a serious biography well researched yet listening to it, it is easy to think you are listening to a novel. If this period in history interests you I would highly recommend it, for it is about more than just Cleopatra herself.
The Lady Elizabeth by Alison Weir – The childhood years of Elizabeth I as a novel, you know the score by now, this is Alison Weir, so the research is strong, however. There was something about this book that felt a bit too artificial, not sure why maybe the reader or maybe more to the point the listener! I didn’t not enjoy it but have enjoyed others more.
And now as it has been said before ‘for something completely different’ well maybe not completely as we are still on a history theme just not of the female biography/bionovel type.
Sacred Treasure the Cairo Genizah by Rabbi Mark Glickman – What is it they say about judging a book by its cover? Well I don’t have a cover as such but here is what the book says about itself.
In 1897, Rabbi Solomon Schechter of Cambridge University stepped into the attic of the Ben Ezra Synagogue in Cairo, Egypt, and there found the largest treasure trove of medieval and early manuscripts ever discovered. He had entered the synagogue’s genizah—its repository for damaged and destroyed Jewish texts—which held nearly 300,000 individual documents, many of which were over 1,000 years old.
This is far more than an academic or historic book though, it is certainly far more than a book on religious Jewish writing, there is a hint on Indian Jones lurking in there and it is incredible that a century after this discovery new things are still being uncovered within those manuscripts. A fascinating book which some screen writer will discover one day and embellish beyond recognition – but maybe they already have.