Al-Hasan al-Wazzan - born in Granada to a Muslim family that in 1492 went to Morocco - became famous as the great Renaissance writer Leo Africanus, author of the first geography of Africa to be published in Europe (in 1550). He had been captured by Christian pirates in the Mediterranean and imprisoned by the Pope; when he was released and baptized, he lived a European life of scholarship as the Christian writer Giovanni Leone....
"Perhaps this was a biography?"
What is the past - and what can we really know about it? This is the big question that 20th-century French historian Lucien Febvre works his way through in 1942's The Problem of Unbelief. Relying on his own innovative technique championing "problem-based history", Febvre focuses specifically on 16th-century French writer François Rabelais to answer one controversial question: Was Rabelais, as historians had always agreed, really one of his country's first atheists?
In The Good News We Almost Forgot, Kevin DeYoung explores the Heidelberg Catechism and writes 52 brief chapters on what it has shown him. The Heidelberg is largely a commentary on the Apostle's Creed, the Ten Commandments, and the Lord's Prayer and the book deals with man's guilt, God's grace, and believers' gratitude.
"A New Favorite of Mine"
This is the story of the average Canadian who volunteered for the Canadian Expeditionary Force told through the lens of one battalion - the 16th Battalion (Canadian Scottish) of the 1st Canadian Infantry Division. This Highland Regiment fought in the Ypres Salient and in the Somme, at Vimy, Passchendaele, and Amiens. It suffered the first gas attack; its ranks were decimated as it fought at virtually every major battle in the European theatre.
"Oh, those brave men!"
Over the last four centuries, a small group of thinkers attempted to answer a series of remarkably challenging questions: In a world having a history of untold suffering-especially, it seemed, for Jews-was the existence of an all-powerful and comforting God still tenable? What were the purpose and meaning of Jewish practices and customs? Could Jews still justify the notion of a chosen people in a social climate in which Jewish integration and full participation with the rest of humanity had become the norm?
"A Gem! Best treatment of material I've ever read."
In the late 16th century, a prominent Albanian named Antonio Bruni composed a revealing document about his home country. Historian Sir Noel Malcolm takes this document as a point of departure to explore the lives of the entire Bruni family, whose members included an archbishop of the Balkans, the captain of the papal flagship at the Battle of Lepanto - at which the Ottomans were turned back in the Eastern Mediterranean - in 1571.
"Where's the story?"
Esteemed history professor Thomas F. Madden explores the reformations that swept across Christendom in the 16th and 17th centuries. The impact of these reforms affected government, popes, and kings as well as commoners, for at this time the Church was an omnipresent part of European identity-and the import of Church reforms on every level of life at this time simply cannot be underestimated.
On May 30, 1593, London's most popular playwright was stabbed to death. The royal coroner ruled that Christopher Marlowe was killed in self-defense, but historians have long suspected otherwise, given his role as an "intelligencer" in the queen's secret service.
"Tries to do too much - doesn't succeed"
In this landmark study of Italy from the 14th through the early 16th centuries, Swiss historian Jacob Burckhardt chronicles the rise of Florence and Venice as powerful city-states, the breakup of the medieval worldview that came with the rediscovery of Greek and Roman culture, and the new emphasis on the role of the individual. All these, Burckhardt explains, went hand in hand with the explorations of science and the more naturalistic depiction of the world in art and literature.
"A Learned Book from 150 Years Ago"
Jacob Fugger lived in Germany at the turn of the 16th century, the grandson of a peasant. By the time he died, his fortune amounted to nearly 2 percent of European GDP. Not even John D. Rockefeller had that kind of wealth. Most people become rich by spotting opportunities, pioneering new technologies, or besting opponents in negotiations. Fugger did all that, but he had an extra quality that allowed him to rise even higher: nerve.
"Narrator the worst I ever heard"