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The Woman Who Defied Kings: The Life and Times of Doña Gracia Nasi
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The Woman Who Defied Kings: The Life and Times of Doña Gracia Nasi

3.85  ·  Rating Details ·  41 Ratings  ·  10 Reviews
The Woman Who Defied Kings is the first modern, comprehensive biography of Doña Gracia Nasi, an outstanding Jewish international banker during the Renaissance. A courageous leader, she used her wealth and connections to operate an underground railroad that saved hundreds of her fellow Spanish and Portuguese conversos (Jews who had been forced to convert to Catholicism) ...more
Paperback, 614 pages
Published June 15th 2002 by Paragon House (first published June 2002)
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Kressel Housman
Jul 08, 2010 Kressel Housman rated it it was amazing
As I said in my review of Cecil Roth's biography of Dona Gracia, this 500-page tome is THE definitive biography on Dona Gracia until, as the author concludes, more documentary evidence reveals more of the story. As it stands, she made very thorough use of the documentary evidence, which is something you can do if you're a Women's Studies chair at Yale University. Translators for responsa, translators for the Spanish and Italian - she and her assistants really covered ground! Sometimes her ...more
Helen
Nov 19, 2016 Helen rated it really liked it
This book clearly deserves 10 stars due to the sheer volume and quality of research, especially considering the cultural, linguistic and geographic scope of the author's voyage. Writing this book could have easily taken a lifetime. In fact, almost any statement that the author makes is clearly substantiated by the source. I am now going through bibliography with the goal to return to many of these books in a while.

Having said that, I feel very strongly that the book would have benefited from a
...more
Joan
Sep 21, 2014 Joan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Jewish history students. Women History students
Recommended to Joan by: Leila Zai
This was an unusual biography. There is relatively little information but the author did a great job of collecting the references and also in visiting many of the locations that Dona Gracia spent some of her life. It was fascinating in several ways. First, that a woman was able to become so powerful in early Renaissance Europe then the Ottoman Empire. Second that a Jew was able to become so powerful especially at the time she lived, a really tragic era for Jews.

Her parents had been expelled fro
...more
Alison
I've had a good run, on this holiday, of books that engaged me, and I suppose it eventually had to end. The subject is an astonishing life story, but I was left wondering at the end if there simply wasn't the information available to write a more interesting book about her, or if the author just had a different idea of what was interesting.
There is a wealth if detail, here, for example on inheritance disputes between Dona Gracia and her sister, but very little on how she ran the business, or how
...more
Carole
Sep 21, 2014 Carole rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
So far, this book is fascinating. More later...I'm just in the beginning.
The book really dragged at the end. The editor should have done a better job with grammar and writing. We all should have heard of this amazing woman and what she accomplished, but she is almost forgotten by all but a few. Dona Gracia Nasi was widowed and left very rich. She moved from Portugal to Italy and ultimately to Constantinople, escaping the Inquisition. She used her vast trading and banking empire to outwit popes,
...more
Isaac Baley
Mar 19, 2015 Isaac Baley rated it it was amazing
Shelves: jewish
A very impressive documentation of the life of an (almost) forgotten character. Reading this book I realize how the actions of Doña Gracia shaped both Jewish and Western civilization as we know it today, either directly or indirectly. I was particularly interested in the description of the development of financial markets in Europe and the large correlation between fiscal troubles of the European crowns and Jewish expulsion/expropriation. The author accompanies her scholarly work with a very ...more
Debra Track
Sep 21, 2014 Debra Track rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A woman I've never heard of from a time of inordinate zeal and now shame. The writing was easily accessible and Brooks' style engaging. Turns of phrase that bring to mind a conversation rather than dry textbook-ish facts.
Recommended if you like biography, history, women's studies and/or Jewish studies.
Yossi Pinhas
Anne tarafından ecdadım oluyor...
15. yüzyıl dünyasına göz atmak için hem bir yol romanı hem bir belgesel, hem de bir kadının ayakta kalma mücadelesi...
Yahudi mirasının nasıl portekiz'den istanbul'a kadar geldiğinin de hikayesi.
Julie
Jan 19, 2012 Julie rated it it was ok
Some of the facts are interesting. I believe the book drones on excessively about technical commercial information.
Sandy Goodman
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Sep 21, 2014
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