In Summary:Biography

Joan of Arc:
A Spiritual Biography

Crossroad, 192 pages, $19.95

"Joan lived a rather normal life for several years after she began to hear her voices." In this matter-of-fact way, Nash-Marshall weaves the spiritual into the mundane in her book about Joan of Arc.

She doesn't try to explain away Joan's vision, nor explore feminist themes, if which there are plenty here. Instead, philosopher Nash-Marshall (assistant professor at Fordham and New York universities) writes like an engaging historian and simply tells Joan's spiritual and political story—so well that I failed in my attempts to skim the book; I kept being pulled into the narrative.

Along the way, Nash-Marshall helps the reader understand the role Joan's spirituality played in her own life in the history of France. Her philosophic explorations at the end, where she tries to understand the relationship of faith, God, and nationalism, is weak—and fortunately short.

Trials of Intimacy:

Love and Loss in the
Beecher-Tilton Scandal

Henry Ward Beecher was the celebrated pastor of Brooklyn's Plymouth Church. Elizabeth Tilton was the wife of Beecher's good friend Theodore. In 1872 Theodore accused Beecher of "criminal conversation" (adultery) with his wife. Henry and Elizabeth vehemently denied it. Then Elizabeth confessed it. But what did she mean by "adultery"-- consummation or just desire?

The question intrigued the public then and history buffs now. Unfortunately, Fox, a historian at the University of Southern California, doesn't tell us what he thinks actually happened between Henry and Elizabeth-- which is one of the historian's responsibilities. Instead, he lays out documents (letters, trial transcripts, editorial cartoons) and attempts, successfully, to provide a window into ...

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