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Joan of Arc: Her Story
ISBN 0312214421 / 9780312214425 / 0-312-21442-1
Publisher St. Martin's Press
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The peasant girl who led an army against the English and placed Charles VII on the French throne has inspired countless books since her death at age 19. While others have claimed Joan the Maid (as she called herself) for every cause from feminism to working-class radicalism, this meticulous volume by two French scholars sticks close to the known facts. The authors make extensive use of contemporary documents that bring to life the turbulent political scene in which Joan operated as well as her forceful personality. Joan followed the directives of voices she believed were sent to her by God; her deep piety, self-assurance, decisiveness, and shrewd intelligence radiate from her letters and from her responses to hostile questioning at the rigged trial that resulted in her being burned alive as a heretic in 1431. General readers may be intimidated at first by a detailed narrative studded with lengthy quotations, but those who persevere will discover a story all the more moving because it is not manipulated to make a modern-day point. This English translation updates the 1986 French volume's bibliography, supplements the biographies in part 2 with sketches of historical figures less familiar outside of France, and generally makes the book more accessible for English-language readers. --Wendy Smith [via]