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REVIEWS79 steven w. RiCHEY, Joan ofArc: The Warrior Saint. Westport, Conn. & London: Praeger, 2003. Pp. x, 175. isbn: 0-275-98103-7. $34.95. Although one might wonder why yet another book on Joan ofArc should appear, Steven Richey's offering does indeed fill a need, for this is Joan as seen not through the eyes of an historian or literary author, but of a modern military-historical researcher who is also a man-at-atms. In his own words, he purports 'to describe what Joan did as a soldier and then to attempt to explain how she did it' (Ch. 1). His discussion thus sets out to resolve disputes and fill in the spaces left among previous modern military-historical analyses—particulatly those by Perroy, Gies, Lancesseur, Liocourt and, most recently and authoritatively, De Vries—within the context of fifteenth-century socio-political events. He also frequently consults contemporary trial testimony and literary works on the Maid, and also modern treatises on the tules of wat found, for example, in the archives ofWest Point, in order to evaluate Joan's leadership qualities more concretely than ever before. It is also a very personal book, but unlike others (Johannic Studies being riddled with authors professing objectivity who often prove highly subjective malgré eux), Richey takes care to distinguish his opinions from his factual findings, while meticulously documenting previous research and theories. Yet his discussion is always very readable and clear. His judicious use of endnotes enables his arguments to move along briskly, unencumbered by digressions and ancillary detail. Other onetime soldiers have written on Joan, but these accounts often lapse into sentimentality. After reviewing previous literature on the heroine (Ch. 2), Richey begins his actual argument by depicting Ftance's desperate historical situation undet English dominance—already well-known but here with more militaty-sttategic detail— just prior to Joan's spectaculat arrival. His next chapter outlines her preliminary military career, debunking a few cliché marvels on theway, such as herability to recognize the Dauphin at Chinon during their first meeting. While demonstrating this feat to be unremarkable, Richey rightly concedes the reality of its charismatic effect, and that of het other similar deeds, on her future supporters at court and in the field. There follows a chapter on Joan's impact on French morale in promoting her moral program ofJust War, which Richeystudies in light ofvarious major military treatises. He reevaluates her famously-contended (by skeptical scholars) 'mascot' role into one of'fighting talisman ofa people who had lost hope' (42), but then, in the next chapter, also defends her as a true commander. Richey analyzes the trials testimony (especially that ofDunois, Bastard of Orleans, and Alençon), and chronicles on her military-strategic accomplishments, which he validates by posing the common-sensequestion: whyotherwise would esteemed officers admit to a 'teenage peasant girl' (87) orderingthem about and attainingvictory? Chapters 7 and 8 explain such astounding success as a combination ofJoan's unique personal qualities (character, intelligence, charisma, even under duress; ability to inspire via words, symbols and archetypes, including that of het own gender) and 'lucky circumstances': certain prevailing folkloric prophecies and women-warrior precedents from the Bible and medieval history; her exceptionallyopen-minded, courageous officers and soldiers who helped her to exploit another chance advantage: English sttategic blunders at Orleans. 8oARTHURIANA Richey's evidence thus paves the way for concluding that Joan and only Joan could imbue the French with the will to do what they might have done all along had they not been so demoralized by conditions surveyed earlier in the book. Furthermore, in three appendices, he offers his own thoughts concerning (i) the precise nature of her missions, (2) the accuracy ofseven popular films on her, (3) her true physical appearance (like Mia Hamm in short hair, he deduces). Again, all of these are approached from a straightforward, modern soldierly standpoint. The book's abundant illustrations—images from her time and also from the modern era, and maps—benefit from effective placement and captions; the maps ate especially useful. In the end, Richey, like most other Joan scholars, remains in awe of her mystery, yet not without adding significant insight in a manner appealing to...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1934-1539
Print ISSN
1078-6279
Pages
pp. 79-80
Launched on MUSE
2015-04-01
Open Access
No
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