It will depend on what you already know about these seven gentlemen. The book is set up as basically seven mini biographies of seven of Metaxas' heroes. I had read a Chernow's biography on Washington and Metaxas' other book on Bonhoefffer, but knew little about the other figures. The book is intended to spark interest in each man leading you to read either more comprehensive biographies by other authors or read the works by the subjects themselves. Overall I thought it was well done and served the purpose that Metaxas set out to achieve. I would certainly recommend it to anybody who wants the "Readers Digest" version of these men's lives.
An exceptional book about the life of an extraordinary man. This book was recommended to me by my father who is a Christian and theologian himself. He regards Bonhoeffer as one of the premier theologians of the 20th century. The book appealed to me on many levels. I have become more interested in Christian “thinkers” (C.S. Lewis, etc) as I have grown up and I very much enjoy history—especially related to World War II. Obviously this book is both!
I walked away from this book thinking that Bonhoeffer was truly a living saint for the short time he was alive. The effect that this man had on everyone who crossed is path was quite remarkable—often including his jailers and those who were persecuting him.
Today you could probably not find a single World War II era German who would ever acknowledge support for Hitler and the National Socialist/Nazi movement; however somehow they and Hitler managed to rise to power right under all of Germany’s noses. Germans such as Bonhoeffer showed extreme courage in their consistent resistance against the Nazis and their horrific treatment of the Jews and others. Bonhoeffer likely knew he would pay for it with his life (which he did), but through it all his faith in Christ and his faith in what was right never waivered. God bless this man.
This is a really nice history of the Borgias, combining lots of crunchy background details with intriguing ideas about the key players. As others have pointed out, this is mainly a defense of the Borgias.
Of course, nobody can make saints out of any of the families that played the power game in Renaissance Italy. Meyer's approach is simply to ask the valid question, "let's just assume that the Borgias were, generally, not monsters -- but just the normal sort of power-hungry egomaniacs who rose to power in that time and place? Can that theory be made consistent with the actual historical record?"
The answer seems to be yes ... or sort of ... more or less. Meyer quite properly rejects the usual fables about incest, orgies, sadism, and the 50 other shades of really, really dark grey which usually pass for historical facts about the Borgias. On the other hand, he can still only make sense of the Borgias by uncritically accepting all the other fables and stereotypes of all the other leading characters of the time, from the Ottomans to the Sforzas. Even then, Cesare comes off looking rather psychotic (but neither depraved nor foolish).
So, draw your own conclusion on the thesis. The book -- right or wrong -- seems to be a successful attempt to walk the line between fairly serious scholarship and entertainment