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Description

An engrossing and revolutionary biography of Isabella of Castile, the controversial Queen of Spain who sponsored Christopher Columbus's journey to the New World, established the Spanish Inquisition, and became one of the most influential female rulers in history.

Born at a time when Christianity was dying out and the Ottoman Empire was aggressively expanding, Isabella was inspired in her youth by tales of Joan of Arc, a devout young woman who unified her people and led them to victory against foreign invaders. In 1474, when most women were almost powerless, 23-year-old Isabella defied a hostile brother and a mercurial husband to seize control of Castile and León. Her subsequent feats were legendary. She ended a 24-generation struggle between Muslims and Christians, forcing North African invaders back over the Mediterranean Sea. She laid the foundation for a unified Spain. She sponsored Columbus's trip to the Indies and negotiated Spanish control over much of the New World with the help of Rodrigo Borgia, the infamous Pope Alexander VI. She also annihilated all who stood against her by establishing a bloody religious Inquisition that would darken Spain's reputation for centuries.

Whether saintly or satanic, no female leader has done more to shape our modern world, in which millions of people in two hemispheres speak Spanish and practice Catholicism. Yet history has all but forgotten Isabella's influence, due to hundreds of years of misreporting that often attributed her accomplishments to Ferdinand, the bold and philandering husband she adored. Using new scholarship, Downey's luminous biography tells the story of this brilliant, fervent, forgotten woman, the faith that propelled her through life, and the land of ancient conflicts and intrigue she brought under her command.

©2014 Kirsten Downey (P)2014 Random House Audio

Critiques

"A strong, fascinating woman, Isabella helped to usher in the modern age, and this rich, clearly written biography is a worthy chronicle of her impressive yet controversial life." ( Kirkus Reviews)

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Notations

Global

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  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Linda Erlich
  • 03/12/2014

Good Biography! Learned so much about the Queen

I have read many historical novels and books about Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand and how they united Spain and began the European conquest of the New World by financing Colombus. I have also read about their daughters, especially Juana and Catalina. I am a student of history and have been studying world history both formally in school, including college, and informally through my personal reading for over 50 years.

However, I never knew of Isabella's direct responsibility for the infamous Spanish Inquisition. This biography, with references, credits the queen with the major responsibility for this holocaust. Of course, she was a product of the times during which she lived. From her perspective, she was saving these people's souls from a hellish afterlife and doing the work of G-d. However even the Pope disagreed with her.

I always thought it was the church that was responsible for the torture, massacre and dispossession of non-Catholics in Spain during the late 15th and early 16th centuries. But I was wrong. It was Isabella and Ferdinand. Talk about self-rightgous fanatics!

This book was indeed very enlightening!

9 sur 9 personne(s) ont trouvé cet avis utile.

  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • 11/01/2015

Utterly Fascinating

This is a beautifully written, meticulously researched, and wonderfully narrated book on one of the most controversial figures in world history. Queen Isabella ruled from 1474 to 1504 but those 30 years changed in the world in many-many important ways. This book is a detailed chronicle of those years and has been written and narrated in such a way that I felt that I was transported to that time and actually watched these events unfold as a silent observer. I would recommend this book highly not just to the erudite historian but to a lay person like me that wants to know what forces shaped our existence and how we came to the peoples that we are today.

6 sur 6 personne(s) ont trouvé cet avis utile.

  • Global
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Autodidact
  • 19/12/2017

Fascinating history.

Always interested in the past/how little the individual means. Sometimes a great individual comes along

2 sur 2 personne(s) ont trouvé cet avis utile.

  • Global
    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Ann
  • 25/11/2016

Narration is nasal, arrogant, annoying.

What made the experience of listening to Isabella: The Warrior Queen the most enjoyable?

The biography seems well-researched, ruined by the breezy, silly narration.

What other book might you compare Isabella: The Warrior Queen to and why?

Sister Queens. Biography.

What didn’t you like about Kimberly Farr’s performance?

A more mature reading would have better fit the subject. Her flat accent sounds gossipy, conspiratorial, forced.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Neither. It's a scholarly work.

2 sur 2 personne(s) ont trouvé cet avis utile.

  • Global
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • 23/02/2015

Poorly narrated

What disappointed you about Isabella: The Warrior Queen?

The narrator's inability to pronounce in Spanish

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

The narration was so bad I could not finish the book.

8 sur 11 personne(s) ont trouvé cet avis utile.

  • Global
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    2 out of 5 stars
  • IheartAmazon
  • 05/03/2016

A challenging listen

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

It is hard for me to say that listening to this was not time well-spent as I did learn a great deal about this time period. However, the time investment relative to the subject of Queen Isabella fell short. I felt the 21 hours was muddled with digressions from the character of Queen Isabella and got lost in surrounding events. There were times when I felt like I was listening to a book on the Inquisition, the Moors, or Christopher Columbus. The author goes so in depth with these events, she loses sight of how it relates to Isabella. Far less time investment was needed in these areas in order to contribute to the life and understanding of Queen Isabella.

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

The ending, particularly the last two chapters, was the first time I felt like I was given the opportunity to learn who Isabella was as a person and her interpersonal relationships. The end was done quite nicely.

What didn’t you like about Kimberly Farr’s performance?

Kimberly had significant difficulty with pronunciation. It was worse with the Spanish terms and names, but there were other English and French words in which emphasis was incorrectly placed on the wrong syllables to the extent that it made names and phrases almost unrecognizable. It distracted from the context. At one point I did not realize she was talking about one of the recurrent characters because she pronounced the name differently than in previous chapters.

Do you think Isabella: The Warrior Queen needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

No.

Any additional comments?

I love history and have read and listened to a variety of historical texts and lectures. This book was a painful read and not because of the historical content. The organization of the time line gets confusing and does not feel fluid. Despite the amount of time invested in this book, I will be looking for another book to get better acquainted with this incredible Queen.

3 sur 4 personne(s) ont trouvé cet avis utile.

  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Michael J. Rosenthal
  • 06/01/2015

A great prep for a trip to Spain

My wife and I are planning to spend a month in Spain in the near future. I think the story of Isabella is central to Spanish history. While I plan to extend my reading I think this was a good basis.

The story is dramatic and captivating and it's telling never lost my attention.I may even listen to it again!

The narration was excellent.

3 sur 4 personne(s) ont trouvé cet avis utile.

  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Steaven Chan
  • 29/12/2014

Excellent

Would you listen to Isabella: The Warrior Queen again? Why?

I couldn't believe how a history book could be so gripping. Love this book.

Any additional comments?

I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in history or the background of Christianity during the age of discovery.

3 sur 4 personne(s) ont trouvé cet avis utile.

  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • 21/01/2015

The Reviews Are Right

Where does Isabella: The Warrior Queen rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This has to be the best of this kind of book that I've ever read. It had the right mix of anecdote, empirical evidence, and relevant episodes of the ruler's life. It is really a great buy for those interested in biographies of leaders and royalty.

3 sur 5 personne(s) ont trouvé cet avis utile.

  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Teresa Chapman
  • 25/08/2018

Spanish History lesson that is captivating

This is a long book and I have listened twice. It's so rich with details that it was impossible for me to absorb all of it with one time through. It's not a novel, but written in a story manner. If you have been to Spain, or planning to go, this is a must do book. The story is about Isabelle, but it weaves in other well known characters, such as Rodrigo Borgia, the kings of England, France, Portugal, not to mention the important connection to the Turks and the Muslim world. Others have criticized the reader's pronunciation of Spanish, but I didn't find that a distraction at all. I was constantly involved with the book, the characters and the story. Get this book. It's wonderful.