New Nonfiction: Joan of Arc: A History – Helen Castor

On the heels of Kathryn Harrison’s bestselling treatment of Joan, is there room for another book six months later? For readers interested in well-grounded history well told, the answer is yes. Harrison’s book is—by her own reckoning “a collective dream”—a meditation on our cultural understanding of Joan as an icon, blending literary and historical understandings. Castor is a medieval historian who gives us a fresh portrait of a young girl against the backdrop of a scorched earth period in French history. Stripping away the baggage of Joan as mythology, the story is somehow even more eye-opening and remarkable.

“Castor brings keenly observed historical details to the grandeur and drama of the political and religious turmoil of medieval Europe and an extraordinary young woman.”
   — Booklist

“Castor’s research is thorough and her account…always fascinating. Readers interested in history, rather than folklore, will find this detailed framing of Joan’s story very rewarding.”
   — Library Journal

The real Joan of Arc was a more flawed, more human and more tragic figure than her name suggests, and in this sober, serious and compelling account Helen Castor…succeeds triumphantly in rescuing her from the various straitjackets…a fascinating and privileged insight.”
— Sunday Times (London)

“Castor creates a strong introduction to the courageous girl who swore she heard saints’ voices, but also to the nation-rending struggle for power so fiercely waged that only that singular, obsessive teenager could finally save France.”
 —  Publishers Weekly

Joan of Arc: A History (9780062384393) by Helen Castor. $27.99 hardcover. 5/19/15 on sale.

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