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God King: A Story in the Days of King Hezekiah (Living History Library) Paperback – January 1, 2002
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About the Author
JOANNE S. WILLIAMSON was born in 1926, in Arlington, Massachusetts. Though she had interests in both writing and music, and attended Barnard College and Diller Quaile School of Music, it was writing which became the primary focus for her car¬eer after college. She was a feature writer for Con¬necticut newspapers until 1965, when she moved to Kennebunkport, Maine and began to write historical fiction for young people.
In each of Miss Williamson's novels, now totaling eight with God King, she explores unusual historical slants of well-known events. In her first book, Jacobins Daughter, she tells a true story of the French Revolution; in The Eagles Have Flown, she presents a picture of Julius Caesar's time and gives a sympa¬thetic portrayal of Brutus. She has a remarkable knack for using her fictional characters and plot to make connections between real historical persons and events. In a time when history is often taught in bits and pieces these connections are a great help, not only to the younger reader, but to the older one as well. Her third book, Hittite Warrior, has been well received in its recent reprinting for just this facility in showing the inter-relatedness of the ancient Hittite, Hebrew, Canaanite and Greek peoples in the 12th century before Christ. In God King, written some years ago, but now published for the first time, similar fascinat¬ing connections are made for a later period in Israel's history.
Before God King (and the reprinting of Hittite Warrior), Joanne Williamson's last book to be pub¬lished had been To Dream Upon a Crown in 1967. The issue of this retelling of Shakespeare's Henry VI trilogy coincided with the unfortunate decline in America of interest in intelligent historical fiction for young people. At that time, she returned to her second calling and taught music until her retirement in 1990. Now interest has been rekindled in her books and in those of other writers of historical fiction. This renewal should be a great source of sat¬isfaction to the many readers, young and old, who are discovering again the fasci¬nation of man's story throughout the ages.
Joanne Williamson died July 5, 2002.
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Top Customer Reviews
In Taharka, the unwilling Pharaoh, Joanne Williamson has created a very sympathetic character. He is naive and trusting at first, yet learns to be strong, resourceful, and merciful. The melding of the scant historical record of the time with the Biblical account of King Hezekiah is skillfully done and the reader truly does get a feel for the time and place.
Overall, this book is a good read for young folks (say, 10 and up) and adults as well. I particularly liked the fact that the book was set in a historical period that is not well studied by your typical 12 year old. Hopefully, it will spur some interest in ancient history among the young. The book is also notable because though Taharka is Black, race never becomes an issue as it often so tediously does in more contemporary fiction for young people. For this reason, I almost hesitate to bring up the subject at all. Let it suffice to say that if more fiction were written from this perspective--where a Black main character is portrayed positively and the other characters are good or evil not based on their race but on their actions--race relations in the real world might actually improve.
It is sometimes a bit rough, though. The ending, however, is unexpected and surprising. Taharka's mercy, and Sennacharib's might against Hezekiah's God add up to a powerful children's story, and an interesting young adult story.