Posts tagged ‘Book Review’

January 30, 2019

Columbus Was Polish — A Genealogical #Book Review

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Stanczyk’s readings have converged. I was reading the book in picture, by author (historian, researcher), Manuel Rosa. This topic has re-occurred, quite a few times. My blog articles on whether Columbus was Polish are here:

Columbus: The Untold Story

Christopher Columbus Discovers … He Is Polish  [12/02/2010]

Wladislaw III, Father of Columbus?  [12/27/2010]

Cristobal Colon Discoverer Formerly Known As Columbus is Noble Born Polish [3/26/2013] 

Columbus’s Author Rediscovers America  [12/18/2014]

Columbus is Polish, Who Knew? [4/7/2016] 

There were a few other references in my blog beyond those. I even traded a few emails with the author too! So I guess I am obsessed with this topic.

Today’s blog originates because I was reading Manuel Rosa’s book and I was also looking a wikipedia article about early Poles in America.  In the wikipedia was one Franciszek Warnadowicz who arrived 1492??? Warna as in Battle of Varna/Warna and owicz as in: of, from, or connected with. So we have Franciszek who is of/from/connected to Warna. Franciszek moved/lived in Cadiz, Spain. According to materials Franciszek or his son Franciszek/Francisco was enrolled as a member of Columbus/Colon’s crew in 1492. Franciszek Warnadowicz has the dubious distinction of being the first European to die in the Americas (at Hispanola).

 

 

So my book review ensues…

I was reading “Columbus: The Untold Story“, by Manuel Rosa.  The book has 17 chapters & an Epilogue spanning 325 pages. It also has an appendix and a Notes Section that is 12 pages of very interesting citations/notes. So this is no fluff book. It has stretches that are a bit pedantic but over all the author conveys how he reached his conclusion that Christobal Colon was Polish and was in known as Wladyslaw IV a Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth noble (Jagiellonian Line).

 

Mr. Rosa is trying to overturn five centuries of misconceptions, with his thesis that Wladyslaw III, survived the Battle of Varna 1444. History built a tomb for Wladyslaw III and named him Wladyslaw Warnensi (or Warneńczyk). So when I saw that Christobal Colon had a Polish crewman named Franciszek WARNAdowicz with him in 1492. I had an Eureka  moment. Suprisingly this historical footnote was missing from Manuel Rosa’s anecdotal arguments in the book, as I think this is another circumstantial argument that supports the author’s claim!

The book has lavish illustrations and pictures to accompany the author’s text. The narrative while not always exciting, is at least compelling. But as a genealogist, Chapter 17 (Son of The Hermit King) was all I really needed to see. Genealogy is History for this jester. I agree he needed to make the detailed and well researched arguments of the the first 16 Chapters and I understand as a Portuguese native these are the compelling part. I mean honestly how could the Polish family, under its pseudonym (double pseudonyms) have such privilege if Columbus were a commoner? He makes the excellent argument of the names (pseudonyms) and the secrecy required by both Wladyslaw III and his son(s) to remain safe. These were marriages of nobles, educated nobles. Poles, Portuguese, Spaniards. They were all royals!

Many Chapters are focused on Spain & Portugal and they too include genealogies and histories. So if you you are Spanish or Portuguese then these first 6 Chapters will be of interest (really the whole book). It is after all Portuguese-centric. The early books were in Spanish, Portuguese, and Polish. So this jester was glad they got around to an English translation. The book is filled with symbols and their decoding. It’s kind of like a real live, Dan Brown tale. There was also an argument about distances and the mathematics and I being an engineer loved that discussion. The double-swapped identity to protect Wladyslaw (III & IV) from the Ottomans or Muslim assassins was a bit beyond Occam’s Razor. I would have loved to see some work on Wladyslaw IV’s brothers and their genealogy. Also, with all of the Genetic Genealogy, why has no Jagiellonian DNA been tested against Christobal Colon? The book seems to rule out Italian ancestry via DNA, but what holds back the Polish confirmation.

 

Still I believe Christobal Colon was Polish and a noble. But belief is not proof. Manuel Rosa, get some Polish DNA to prove Christobal Colon was Polish. The Slavics have distinctive haplotypes. It should be easy to determine if he’s Polish/Lithuanian (as any Jagiellonian would be) and he has done enough to prove nobility from circumstantial evidence. I do so love the era of #Genetic #Genealogy!

 

P.S. 

I am now reading a book on Colon’s last voyage (the Vizcaina), so I hope to get more info about Warnadowicz.

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May 14, 2018

CIRCE — #BookReview #MadelineMiller

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

CIRCE by Madeline Miller

Stanczyk loves the classics! So in January, when I read that local author Madeline Miller (@MillerMadeline) had a new book coming out called, “CIRCE“, I knew I had to read it. But the announcement said it would be published April 10th, 2018??? So I Googled her other works. I saw “Song of Achilles” and I thought, OK I need to read the Iliad before I read the Odyssey, so I’d go book up on her prior book (an NYT Best Seller) and wrote a book review too.

If you read this jester’s book review of “Song of Achilles” then you know I adored the story and the author too. So my expectations were high for “CIRCE” too. I craved more of Ms. Miller’s Greek hero narrative. I had thought Odysseus would be the narrator like Patroclus was in the prior book. I should not have been surprised when Circe was the narrator, but I was.  I thought the prior book had an #LGBT flavor to it and would appeal to that crowd. So then this book would appeal to the #MeToo and Feminists everywhere… I am sure of that. But both books were enjoyed by this jester ( a heterosexual male). Ms. Miller once again shows off her strong narrative style and flair for Greek Myth.

The prior book spanned a couple of decades, but CIRCE spans centuries. Given that vast timespan, we get to enjoy encounters with Daedalus and the Minotaur. Hermes and Athena appear as do quite a few Titans. Jason’s wife Medea shows up too. But in the end we are expecting Odysseus to appear on Circe’s island. We expect her to ensorcel our Greek hero. Oh, Odysseus does show up and regales Circe (and us) with his heroic tales. They become enchanted  lovers. Circe is a strong woman, an herbalist, witch with scant soothsaying skills and being a Titan deity, the endless lifespan to tell these tales to us. Circe evolves from a powerless nymph to a powerful feminist goddess in her enlarged lifespan. I guess you could say this a goddess coming of age novel. Ms. Miller is a master of the narrative style and the book is a compelling tale (s).

The span is so large not only do we get to view Odysseus, we also get to see his return home to Penelope and Telemachus. At this point, the classicist author turns the novel into Homer’s missing sequel (Telegony). You recall, that Odysseus unknowingly  fathers a son, Telegonus by Circe (her choice to let protective spells lapse). So we get a clever tale of Odysseus’s two sons (and wives?) interacting on Circe’s island. That was an unexpected treat. Indeed, before this book review, I did not know that Homer’s sequel was lost and that we find it herein told in the book Circe. I loved this novelty more in my review than I had as an unknowing book reader.

This book, if it has a flaw and most would say none, but I think Ms. Miller’s treatment of the hero Odysseus is harsh. This jester was always an Odysseus groupie (but always a died-in-the-wool Theseus fan). So I did not enjoy the feminist revision of Odysseus even by his patron god, Athena! Oh the horror. But even that I am willing to entertain. As this book and this author gets benefit of doubt for the rapt enjoyment bestowed.

Buy the book and read it. Indeed buy them both and read them both. Then email this jester and let him know which book  you prefer.

August 7, 2014

#Book #Review — The Serpent Of Venice by Christopher Moore

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

The Serpent Of Venice  by Christopher Moore —

contact:  Christopher Moore .

The Serpent Of VeniceStanczyk is  a bibliophile, possibly even a bibliophage. Being a jester for three kings gives me an especial fondness for authors/stories that have a jester/fool as one of the characters. So Stanczyk has a special fondness for William Shakespeare. Imagine how this jester was jolted to find a story mashed-up from Shakespeare with a jester … wait-a-minute  … who has a monkey  … named Jeff? Oh rapture, huzzah! How did I miss the fact that Christopher Moore had these characters in a prior novel  … Fool? Note to self go back and buy Fool !

I had only just finished the first chapter when I realized this story was a mash-up.  It appeared to me to be a mash-up of Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice (comedy) and Othello (tragedy) and Poe’s The Cask of Amontillado (mystery). I was lured by the clever riff upon the Merchant of Venice title and naïvely assumed this would be a take off of that story. But I got more, much more than even I had bargained for and a monkey named Jeff to boot.

I like to examine a book like some kind of genealogy document. What is its structure? Is there anything unusual or unexpected? How many pages/chapters? So after I read three chapters, I decided to do this kind of examination. I recommend you read the first three chapters too before you do this examination. I saw an afterword. It was by the author and he gives his deconstruction of his novel — most interesting! But it can be a bit of a spoiler. Still I did read the Afterword before I read the last chapter  … I just could not help myself. I already decided to invest myself in the book and was uproariously entertained so far. Having the author give insight, also added to my wanting to complete the book, but I did appreciate some of the inside “skinny” he gives, so I can ensure I get all that Mr. Moore dishes up.

I laughed at his wit. Its right there in the preface (called The Stage and after  the Cast [Dramatis Personae] ). So even before the story begins, the humor has already set in. So I was surprised at his droll wit — not that he had it. Its just that I had Mr. Moore pegged in my mind as a Terry Pratchett. Indeed, I assumed he was some kind of Londoner. So I was surprised when I read his Wikipedia page that he was born in Toledo, Ohio. He writes the dialogue with such obvious British humor and dialect that I had assumed British, not someone born where many of my ancestors had settled, land of the algae bloomed water supply (that has not, so far, caught fire as Lake Erie has been known to do).

The surprise character (at least I think she/it will be a surprise since I was given an inkling in the Afterword which I read beforehand) and its introduction into the storyline called to mind for me, a bit of Beowulf. Especially since this story was already known by me (before the Afterword) to be a mash-up, so perhaps I was now hunting for mash in this uplifting and funny story. So many of the characters are very likeable that I do not know who to cheer for and who to jeer for. What a delightful diversion.

Its a novel in a guise of a play. Hence, the Cast and the Stage. But there is also a Chorus (like some kind of Greek play) and the Chorus is a character too! The book is so clever, this jester decided to Follow @TheAuthorGuy on Twitter.

Stanczyk recommends this book to all who like a good story infused with humor ala Pratchett. Its absurdist proportions appeal to my Slavic soul. The meta joke that an American can write the British dialect with such humor and panache will appeal to Terry Pratchett or Douglas Adams fans.  Do not wait for this book to become available as an e-book on your library’s e-book facility, the line is too long. Go directly to your local library (or bookstore) and get the physical copy — much quicker than waiting for the Overdrive download to become available. I guess most people are afraid to enter the physical world and reticent to  leave their Internet bus stop. Excuse me, I will have to go to Marseilles now.


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