Review Of "Francis Of Assisi: A New Biography" By A. Thompson

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Francis was a truly remarkable man. He so impressed the people of his own time that even before his death a rich field of stories, images, anecdotes, and reports of miracles had sprung up. These so enveloped the saint that many scholars have despaired of uncovering the man behind the legends. But this new, lucid study by Thompson (history, Graduate Theological Union) largely achieves this goal. A distinctive feature of the project is its division into two complementary parts. Part 1 is an engaging, well-written new biography of the saint. Part 2 is a closely annotated examination of the sources and debates about Francis. The advantage of this division is that the biography stands alone, unencumbered by scholarly apparatus, yet in the second part the author displays the reasoning that leads him to believe that he gives a truer picture of the man Francis than other biographers do. Thompson previously wrote Cities of God: The Religion of the Italian Communes, 1125-1325 (CH, Jan'06, 43-3017). This new book will be valuable to casual inquirers and scholars alike. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-level undergraduates and above; general readers.


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