Amazon Vehicles Up to 80 Percent Off Textbooks Amazon Fashion Learn more Discover it $5 Albums Fire TV Stick Health, Household and Grocery Back to School Totes Amazon Cash Back Offer conj2 conj2 conj2  Amazon Echo  Echo Dot  Amazon Tap  Echo Dot  Amazon Tap  Amazon Echo Introducing new colors All-New Kindle Oasis Kiss Rocks Vegas Back to School
Customer Review

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ALICE HOGGE'S GOD'S SECRET AGENTS REVIEWED BY JOHN CHUCKMAN, January 7, 2011
This review is from: God's Secret Agents: Queen Elizabeth's Forbidden Priests and the Hatching of the Gunpowder Plot (Paperback)
Here is a wonderful book - full of scholarship and well-written, often as gripping as a spy novel, and packed with information to help us appreciate the long and painful journey we have made to reach relatively free and tolerant societies in the advanced world.

The Elizabethan era has long been one of my favorites - a time of great change, a notable step towards the modern era, a time packed with high adventures and important achievements, a time of great writers and adventurers, and the time of one of Europe's greatest princes (Elizabeth herself used the term prince), and I have read a good many books. So it was pleasantly surprising that Alice Hogge offered a number of details and anecdotes of which I had little or no knowledge.

Elizabeth's special deputy, as it were, in hunting down Catholic priests in hiding and recusants (Catholics who refused to join the Church of England, despite fines and punishments) assisting them, Richard Topcliffe, was an extraordinarily hideous figure. I had read references to him before, but here are some facts and events of which I was unaware.

Elizabeth herself is known to have been a tolerant in people's dissenting religious beliefs, so long as they were kept private and a public show was made of keeping to the laws governing England's new church arrangements. Everything religious in that time was unfortunately also charged with political meaning, and if ever there were a lesson for keeping church and state separate, this tale is it.

The Parliament of that day was increasingly under the influence of the Puritans, and Elizabeth had to make compromises with them despite not agreeing with their nasty excesses, a story both of the dawning of a new religious era and the decline in the power of the monarch as part of the long journey towards democratic government.

Still, the details offered of Topcliffe's special relationship with Elizabeth are surprisingly unpleasant to learn.

But it was a terrible time - one we can barely fully appreciate - especially after Elizabeth's excommunication in 1570 by Pius V giving Catholics the "right" to get rid of her, Philip II's 1588 massive Armada and other efforts to overthrow her, assassinations and civil wars in Europe, various plots in England, and Elizabeth's own great insecurity over her throne, considering all that came before her with her tyrant father and her terrifying half-sister Mary, and then that rather demented but charming contemporary claimant to the throne, Mary, Queen of Scots, always involved in plots.

The story of Nicholas Owen, craftsmen and builder of many ingeniously-conceived "priest hides" in English Catholic great homes, is a wonderful one. I was pleased that the author gave a substantial discussion of his admirable and heroic efforts.

The terrible irony of those times was that so many good people on both sides - Catholic and non-Catholic - were swept away in a great tide of terrible events brought on by a smaller number of fanatics and paranoids. Ms. Hogge gives us a very vivid sense of this. She also gives us a good sense of the terrible extremism - just as bad as the worst Catholic plotters - of the emerging extreme Protestants, the various Puritan groups who were as ugly and murderous as the bloodiest Popes.

The story continues after Elizabeth - she died in 1603 - with the first of the Stuart kings, James I , a king who started with much promise and delivered little in religious and other matters, and on to the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, whose dark corners and ambiguities Ms Hogge outlines. Ms. Hogge takes us to the end for some of the key characters of the era, but of course the end of her book was not the end of religious strife. It is a tale of executions, torture, and exile.

I loved the way Ms. Hogge gave us an afterward relating the hunt for Catholics in England then to the situation of Muslims today in Western countries.

This is altogether an admirable and excellent book, and I recommend it highly.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

Be the first person to comment on this review.

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
Name:
Badge:
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
 
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in
  [Cancel]


Review Details

Item

Reviewer


Location: Citylights, Ontario

Top Reviewer Ranking: 183,233