Author Topic: CALVIN by F. Bruce Gordon  (Read 136 times)  

Offline JimCrigler

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CALVIN by F. Bruce Gordon
« on: April 24, 2013, 10:50:11 AM »
Published to coincide with the 500th anniversary of John Calvins 1509 birth (not that he had any others), this biography is at once informative and absorbing.  I am reviewing the Kindle edition of the book that I received as a Christmas gift.

One of the functions of a historical biography is to place the events it talks about in their proper setting.  Those of us who last took a history course more than 35 years ago (and are not historians or history buffs) need to be educated about a setting like this.  Almost all the events described happened in places we would today call France and Switzerland, but the political situation of the first half of the 1500s was only vaguely similar to that of today:  France was not as unified as it is now; Switzerland was much more fractured than it is now.

This biography is organized primarily around threads of subject and communication, following each thread in a separate chapter through time.  Some threads are expressly theological; some are driven by personality; some are event-oriented.  When I began to realize this and saw that chapters overlapped significantly (calendar-wise), I began just began, mind you to appreciate Calvins ability to juggle all the different threads of his life.  John Calvin made many of todays multitaskers look boring and monotonous.

As a biography of someone whose effect on the European and American cultures is still being felt, this volume is admirable, accessible, informative and somewhat entertaining.

The Kindle version, however, filled me with frustration:

  • The publisher used nonstandard fonts, to no advantage whatsoever.  Publishers, if youre reading this, know that Kindle readers read for content, not for design.  Please allow the user the option of using the built-in fonts of the device.  (I know this is possible because I have read at least one book where it was done.)
  • The font size was too big.
  • Footnote/endnote marks in the text were not linked to the notes themselves.  For a heavily annotated book anything scholarly at all this should be an embarrassment to the publisher.
  • Punctuation in the text was inconsistent:  When footnote marks in the text fell just after a period, an extra space was inserted before the period.

When publishers begin to have more respect for ebook readers, the world will be a better place.

Overall: 3.7 out of 5 stars (4.5 for content, 2.9 for production).