Joan of Arc - Maid of Heaven

Book Review

This is my favorite biography out of all that I have read about St. Joan because it is both well-written and well-researched which is a rare combination. I think I pay the author a great compliment in saying that this biography reminds me a lot of other biographies I have read by the legendary biographer Douglass Southall Freeman. What reminds me of the Freeman biographies is the style of writing that is sympathetic to the subject but also fair and contains great historical documentation for the conclusions that are drawn.

The author, Albert Bigelow Paine, was a distinguished writer of the late 19th and early 20th century. He worked for and with Mark Twain and is probably best known for his authorized biography of Mark Twain. He also served on the Pulitzer Prize Committee for many years until his death in 1937. Paine wrote two books about St. Joan of Arc the other being The Girl in White Armor. He was awarded the decoration of Chevalier in the Legion of Honor by the French Government for his work on Joan.

Paine explains in the forward to this biography that it was when he first read Mark Twain's biography about Joan that she "emerged from a land of myth and fable to become a reality." Paine then felt compelled to follow the footsteps of Joan and spent four years in France researching the original French documents in preparation to his writing. Paine's approach in using the actual quotes of Joan and her contemporaries as much as possible was way ahead of his time. Paine's own words at the end of the forward aptly summarize this great biography:
"The story of Joan is the wonder tale of the ages and needs little embellishment. The facts alone are marvelous enough. My effort has been to present them, without bias and without neglect."

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