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Condition: Used: Good
Comment: Ex-library book. The item shows wear from consistent use, but it remains in good condition and works perfectly. All pages and cover are intact (including the dust cover, if applicable). Spine may show signs of wear. Pages may include limited notes and highlighting.
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Éminence: Cardinal Richelieu and the Rise of France Hardcover – September 13, 2011

3.5 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“Blanchard's captivating biography vividly captures the rise to power of a seminal figure who was instrumental in creating France as we know it.” ―Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Blanchard gives Cardinal Richelieu a tremendous depth of character through the re-creation of key, decisive moments over the course of his courtly career.” ―Kirkus Reviews

“Cardinal Richelieu receives a more nuanced portrayal from Blanchard…. [he] excels in digging deep beneath the surface to reveal the extraordinary man who spawned the legend.” ―Margaret Flanagan, Booklist

“Blanchard paints a riveting picture of the scope of Richelieu's career…. While the life of the notorious cardinal is hardly untouched material for writers, Blanchard's biography is one of few recent treatments of the subject in English and should be well received by scholars and general readers with a serious interest in French military or political history.” ―Tessa L.H. Minchew, Library Journal

“A richly rewarding study of both an early student of absolute state power, and how his influence built the foundation for France's domination of seventeenth-century Europe.” ―BarnesandNobleReview.com

About the Author

Jean-Vincent Blanchard is an associate professor of French literature and politics at Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania. He is the author of several books published in France; this is his first book published in English.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Walker Books; 1st U.S. Ed. edition (September 20, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802717047
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802717047
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #839,807 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is an introductory biography of Cardinal Richelieu. The author, Jean-Vincent Blanchard, wrote a well written and entertaining book on the cardinal but he doesn't add much to the life and time of one of the most misunderstood statesmen of modern Europe. The book's approach to Cardinal Richelieu is one of respect and admiration. Personally I see nothing wrong with that. Cardinal Richelieu remains one of the most important men in French history period. And one of the most important men of modern European history. His role in saving France from the chaotic period after the death of Henry IV is clearly shown in this book.

The book covered all the major events of Richelieu's life. I was bit surprised that he did not go deeper into the fate of Urban Grandier which many historians point to Richelieu's callous disregard for justice. There is only a minor sentence regarding Grandier. I am also bit surprised that the author did not make much issue of one event that secured Richelieu to power until his dying days, the birth of future Louis XIV. The Dauphin literally removed two of Richelieu's deadest enemies from any political equation: Gaston the former heir and direct enemy of Richelieu and the Queen Mother. Both were non-factors in French politics after the birth of Dauphin and ensure Richelieu hold on power. (Of course the Cinq-Mar Affair proves to be a minor bump on the road.)

Although author acknowledged the overall greatness of Richelieu, he was wise enough to point out his many weaknesses, mainly in the field of finance, trade and commerce that nearly led to economic ruins of France and no doubt, fuel the coming revolution called the Fronde.
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Format: Paperback
I really wanted to like Eminence: Cardinal Richelieu and the Rise of France but Jean-Vincent Blanchard's work here isn't that good to begin with and the plodding translation from the original French doesn't help either.

Writing history is a balancing act. You need to channel the available source materials into a cohesive narrative without overly simplifying the sheer complexity of it all.

In spite of what Blanchard would have us believe the Thirty Years' War was not an episode of Family Feud starring the Valois and Hapsburg dynasties. Louis XIII was not mercurial or unpredictable. He merely played all sides against the middle the way successful executives do.

As for Blanchard's treatment of the Cardinal himself there's entirely too much reliance on court gossip for comfort. And history is not a fairy tale. These were real people who thought and acted rationally in the context of their particular circumstances.

We're still waiting for the authoritative Richelieu biography because this isn't it. Not even close.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Not the best narrative of the Cardinal's life, this concentrates too much on his military exploits and spends too little time on his fascinating personality. Nevertheless, it is a good account of what Richelieu had to do to survive in Louis XII's court.
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Format: Hardcover
Why the historical profession believes that while research and analysis must be taught, writing is to be left up to the historian to figure out on his own is beyond me. Having just finished one of Robert Massie's sparking biographies, perhaps I was expecting too much from a classically trained historian. Although the brief biography does not specifically state that Blanchard is not a native English speaker, I have the feeling that this is part of the problem. Writing well in a language not really your own is extraordinarily difficult, and few have managed (Conrad springs to mind). Most of us should avoid it. Best to write in one's own language and hire a really good translator, or have an editor not shy to massively rewrite the work.

The poor writing is unfortunate. Richelieu is one of the giants of early modern Europe and a well written popular biography is sorely needed.
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Format: Hardcover
For academics, this is a once over lightly, but for the general reader, it's a slog. There is a lot on the Cardinal's military career (conflict here?) and how he dispatched with his rivals (not very Christian), but little on how he earned his reputation for statecraft.

The author is clearly knowledgable. The book jacket it says, "This is his first book in English". I see no evidence of a translator, so putting this together is an achievement for which I'd like to give the author 5 stars. There are other problems, that might not be the author's fault. The map doesn't have all the places named in the text and the genealogy table is very thin. Being new to the content, I needed the index, but it gives mostly page numbers (few descriptors/guides) and limited "see" references (especially important for the long names of royals and nobles) making it difficult to find previous info.

The general reader comes away with the sense that Richelieu was a conniver who used war as a tool, who manipulated a king, was merciless to any who hinted of rivalry and became very wealthy. There is little to justify the role as a statesman that history has accorded him. There is also little on his role as Cardinal (relations with Rome, local parishes and monestaries) and nothing specific on how he became so wealthy.

This is a brief look at the military exploits of France at the time, and at the reign of Louis XIII and at his dysfunctional family and friendships. I'd like to see more on the overall work of Cardinal Richelieu. This material presented suggests the need for a study of the Cardinal-King relationship which the author sums up on p. 227 " The bond between the two men was fascinatingly perverse."
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