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Read the original version.
on August 12, 2008
A most disappointing edition of a truly remarkable classic. I wish I could offer this book 5 stars for demonstrating the life and experiences of past martyrs, and would for most previous editions of this book.
This new edition (voices of the martyrs) held great promise as it included with the original masterpiece an added 200 pages of Christian martyrs from the 20th century. Unfortunately, the true value of these martyrs has been deliberately obscured and I would say cheapened by this book's marketing elements.
Note that I am a great fan of Foxe's (original) Book of Martyrs and would recommend this as an important reading for all Christians - as it offers vivid examples of what living-out Faith can entail, and what standing with Christ against the world will often have for its end (persecution and death).
That being said, while the original book gave each character numerous pages describing their daily life, activities and doctrines which made them targets for persecution. The original book offered a fluid and moving prose, meant to expose without compromise the largest history and smallest details of these martyr's life and ultimate demise. Here you could immerse yourself in their world, feel a neighbor to their daily life and with great empathy have your spirit crushed in anguish as deliberate details were given regarding the methods of violence, torture and death.
As for this new version, the overall effect has been to cheapen the life of these martyrs. This has been accomplished through marketing effects, which I would argue backfired. The cover is an imitation of old book leather (embossed) and smacks of being fake. The pages have a water-stain or ash discoloration - which really only makes the pages look dirty, not ancient. The pictures interspersed throughout are reminiscent of Norman Rockwell drawings and seem both meant for a child's story book and completely at odds with human suffering. The font used, once again is overdone and only looks as a poor imitation of old Gothic letters. The font along with ink fading in and out on the pages simply has the effect of falsity and is far from convincing. Finally, whereas the original copy gave many pages of the martyr's life and final days/hours - this new version gives such short snippets on our 2oth century martyrs as to almost provide you with a newspaper headline and following sentence. Gone are the details and depth, and gone is any opportunity to empathize, to feel any sort of kinship. This, is a disgrace to their lives and the worst possible epitaph. What is offered here is a 1 or 2 paragraph summary, devoid of valuable details, lacking the historical and cultural backdrops and clinically sterile.
I feel a great shame placed upon the 20th century martyrs in this book's format, and instead of giving them their due place of honor, each is trimmed down to fit our limited attention-span, and in the process, deeply cheated of their true value!