The Creation of Anne Boleyn – A Review by Kyra Kramer

Posted By on April 5, 2013

creation of Anne BoleynI’m in the middle of reading Susan Bordo’s “The Creation of Anne Boleyn” (it’s brilliant so far) and will review it on the review site when I’ve finished, but here’s a review by Kyra Kramer, author of “Blood Will Tell: A Medical Explanation of the Tyranny of Henry VIII”. Over to Kyra…

When I found out that Susan Bordo had a book on Anne Boleyn coming out on the 9th of April I did a snoopy dance of happiness. I am an ardent intellectual admirer of Dr. Bordo. As an student in anthropology I read several of her books about the cultural reflections of the body; they are considered to be seminal, paradigm changing texts and she is one of the brightest stars in the Humanities’ sky, so more than one class used her work as a teaching tool. Frankly, I think there is no one better at deconstructing the cultural narratives that are scripted around a subject – especially narratives that are used to reinforce socially ascribed gender differences. In short, Bordo is another intellectual heavyweight who could widen the breach that has been cut through the malarkey surrounding Anne Boleyn’s mythic “bad girl and schemer” persona.

Dr. Bordo’s book, titled The Creation of Anne Boleyn: A New Look at England’s Most Notorious Queen, looked like it was going to be everything I hoped it would be. The blurb certainly filled my nerdy, feminist heart with glee:

“Part biography, part cultural history, The Creation of Anne Boleyn is a fascinating reconstruction of Anne’s life and an illuminating look at her afterlife in the popular imagination. Why is Anne so compelling? Why has she inspired such extreme reactions? What did she really look like? Was she the flaxen-haired martyr of Romantic paintings or the raven-haired seductress of twenty-first-century portrayals? (Answer: neither.) And perhaps the most provocative questions concern Anne’s death more than her life. How could Henry order the execution of a once beloved wife? Drawing on scholarship and critical analysis, Bordo probes the complexities of one of history’s most infamous relationships.

Bordo also shows how generations of polemicists, biographers, novelists, and filmmakers imagined and re-imagined Anne: whore, martyr, cautionary tale, proto “mean girl,” feminist icon, and everything in between. In this lively book, Bordo steps off the well-trodden paths of Tudoriana to expertly tease out the human being behind the competing mythologies.”

There was no way I could wait until the 9th to get my mitts on this book. Thus, I contacted the author and used a tactic I like to call “obsequious pleading” until she agreed to let me have one of the advance copies.
Have you ever been so excited, and experienced so much build up, about an event or item that there was almost no way to avoid a big letdown, or at least a minor disappointment? Well, that didn’t happen. I am the little pig who went squee squee squee all the way home I loved this book so much!

Bordo has the intellectual chops and the academic clout to pull no punches when taking apart the misogynistic cocoon that has frequently shrouded the authentic Anne Boleyn, and there was no historian so grand that he or she was safe from the accusation of shenanigans. She called historians out for any assertion about Anne’s life that lacked credible evidence, including G.W. Bernard and his “hunch” that Anne had committed at least some of the adultery she was accused of (p.233). She also frequently illustrated how a historian’s personal interpretation of data was often presented as “fact”, such as David Starkey’s descriptions of Anne as a “ruthless predator” with no actual proof to back up his claims (p.3-6). She also took apart the motives behind Starkey’s irrational, hypocritical, and petulant tirades about “feminized history”, much to my delight (149).

Neither were fictional authors who misrepresented Anne Boleyn allowed to go on their merry way. If an author stated that he or she tried to make the character or history of Anne Boleyn mostly accurate but changed things for the sake of the narrative flow or story, it was fair play to them. Bordo clearly supports the fiction author’s right to borrow from, but not necessarily recreate, history. For example, Hilary Mantel’s work, which is hardly flattering to Queen Anne and is not particularly realistic, was lauded for its creativity, writing style, and the fact that Mantel never claims – in any interview or in any book — that “her” Anne is the “real” Anne Boleyn (p.227). In contrast, the work of novelist Philippa Gregory is eviscerated, not so much for her egregious “distortions of fact” as it is for her “self-deceptive and self-promoting chutzpah”, wherein she falsely claims to be a “trained historian” who has “very strict rules of accuracy” in her writing (p. 226). Furthermore, Bordo meticulously presents Gregory’s novel, The Other Boleyn Girl, for what it is – a well-written and entertaining, but profoundly inaccurate, portrayal of history.

There were, of course, some things in the book I disagreed with. I am an academic. As a species we critique everything; it is a rite of passage in graduate school. However, those things had less to do with Anne Boleyn than general history. For example, Bordo cites David Cressy’s book (Birth, Marriage, & Death) to argue that Tudor medical care would be the underlying factor in the fetal and neonatal mortality rate suffered by Henry VIII’s offspring (p.121-122), but that ignores Cressy’s minute examination of 16th century church records which show that child mortality, while terrifyingly and tragically high, was not as high as commonly believed. Moreover, Bordo did not mention the fair chunk of evidence showing that the rate of unsuccessful pregnancies for Henry’s queens were atypical of their time, even factoring in the prenatal care and birthing rites of the period. Finally, she was very dismissive of the skill midwives brought into the delivery room. I did my dissertation on midwifery, and I can assure you that midwives were hella good at their jobs. Biomedical doctors didn’t match the midwife’s success rate until the 1920s. All my sources are cited in my book, Blood Will Tell, for those want to know more.

Speaking of Blood Will Tell – I must share the agonizing reality that in Dr. Bordo’s book she disdained the theory put forth by Dr. Catrina Banks Whitley and myself, believing it to be mere sociobiological claptrap. Her thoughts on the theory were scathing, especially the speculation about McLeod syndrome. She argued that the “gap between “could” and “true” widens to the point of absurdity” when the theory posited that severe mental deterioration as a result McLeod syndrome could have spurred Henry to turn so suddenly and viciously against Anne, and scoffs that McLeod syndrome would “collapse the three-year trajectory of a politically troubled, emotionally intense marriage into a diagnose from House” (p. 122). Ouch!

Such harsh evaluations by an academic hero of mine caused my bottom lip to tremble in a rather pathetic manner. Fortunately for my lip, Dr. Bordo sent me an email to tell me that she would have viewed the theory less negatively if she had looked at in depth at the time of her writing and:

“at the point at which my book went into production, your book wasn’t yet out but the theory was being splashed over the papers and internet — and in that form, it sounded to me like a biologically reductive theory of a very complex set of relations, so my very brief discussion of it … did not, I’m afraid, do justice to what sounds … like a much more subtle and complicated explanation … It’s unfortunate (I’ve been the victim of it myself several times) that the cost of becoming more “public” is often mis-representation in the media … Only after it was way too late to make any substantive changes in my own book did yours come out, and I started to hear wonderful things about it.”

My lip stopped trembling.

Although she has certainly not given a ringing endorsement to the theory, and many people will read a harsh synopsis of it in her book, I am happy that she told me she is more open to the possibility that it is not an entirely wretched idea. Even if she is never convinced that the theory has any merit, other Tudorphiles have disagreed with me *cough Claire Ridgway cough* (Claire: 😉 )but have still given my scholarship due credit, and unless Henry is exhumed and his DNA tested as conclusive proof, that is often the best I can hope for.

Bordo’s book is a thorough examination and dissection of Anne Boleyn’s historical and cultural aspects. I cannot recommend it highly enough for anyone who is interested in this famous queen and her multifaceted reputation.

Thanks Kyra!

Susan Bordo’s “The Creation of Anne Boleyn: A New Look at England’s Most Notorious Queen” is due out on 9th April and is available to pre-order at – click here. There is a slight problem with availability on Amazon UK due to the book rights being sold to another publisher, but The Book Depository appear to have it in stock.

Kyra Kramer’s “Blood Will Tell: A Medical Explanation of the Tyranny of Henry VIII” is available on all Amazon sites – click here for Amazon US. You can read my review of it at our Tudor Book Reviews site. As I say there regarding Kyra’s theory, “I’m still not convinced, but that’s just my opinion and that should in no way detract from the book, which is an excellent read. I highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in what made Henry tick.” It’s a wonderful book.

Kyra also wrote two article for The Anne Boleyn Files:

46 thoughts on “The Creation of Anne Boleyn – A Review by Kyra Kramer”

  1. Mallory says:

    Hi Kyra,

    I enjoyed reading your review, but are you stating that Bardo gave your book a negative review without actually reading it? That is not good scholarship and, frankly, she should have known better. I am looking forward to Bardo’s book, though, and wasn’t to begin with. Why? Because you wrote a great review of her book. I can tell you read it, and based on your recommendation, I will be adding it to my Kindle Fire.

    By the way, I LOVED your book. An insightful look into a medical reason for Henry’s “issues.” However, I still am skeptical that he just wasn’t a tyrant who was full of his absolute view of monarchy. But, you did make me think beyond that view.

    Thank you!

    1. Claire says:

      I’m sure Kyra will answer you, but I think that the situation was that when Susan wrote her book Kyra’s book hadn’t been published, just a journal article that Kyra had written with her colleague, Catrina Banks Whitley, and newspaper articles based on that. Susan didn’t review the book, she refers to the theories. I hope that clears that up.

    2. Kyra says:

      What Claire said was absolutely correct; my book was published AFTER Bordo’s book had gone to the printer & the publishing machine had it from then on out. This happens in academia a lot, BTW. Things can change very fast, but your book can have been “in production” for the last 2 years, and thus can have bits that drive you nuts after the fact.

      And thank you SO much for liking my book!

      1. Mallory says:

        Thank you ladies for your imput. I ordered Bardo’s book and it will be availabe to read on my Kindle Fire on the 9th. Looking forward to it

  2. Sonetka says:

    Thanks for the review! I’m looking forward to the book very much, particularly the analysis of the novels, for obvious reasons :). I will say, though, that I’ve talked with quite a few people who scorn Philippa Gregory but swallowed Hilary Mantel without salt and were really shocked to discover that a lot of it was either untrue (that Cardinal Wolsey masque, arrgh!) or unverifiable.To put it bluntly, Mantel comes across as a higher-class sort of writer, and without a specific disclaimer that “We don’t know it was like this” a lot of people are ready to believe that what she writes is true.

    1. Kyra says:

      Yes, that drives me bananas, but there is no urge to (metaphorically) strangle Mantel because she never claims that her work IS the real history. I don’t think she can be held responsible for other people’s lack of basic information, even if is very frustrating to see myths constantly perpetuated.

      1. Clare says:

        Kyra, I’ve read interviews with Mantel where she spouts about how fiction writers have a responsibility to the history they are writing about and in particular the characters. That seems to me to be at odds with the liberties she then takes, which includes the demonising of historical characters. Her comments, which give the impression that her books are well researched, muddy the water as far as her inaccurate fiction is concerned.

        1. Sonetka says:

          I agree — she doesn’t say flat-out “This really happened” (when does Hilary Mantel EVER say anything flat-out?) but she does talk a great deal about responsibility to history and the need to be “authentic” (You can read an account of a talk she gave, with a few quotes, here: She obviously can’t be held responsible for what other people don’t know, but she works very hard to let people know just how much research she’s done. Which is not to say that her books are bad — as novels, they’re fantastic, even if they spend a little too much time pushing the reader. But I’m curious to see Bordo’s reasons for embracing Mantel and rejecting Gregory, because I do think there’s a real class divide there — Gregory is seen as vulgar and lowbrow, whereas Mantel is someone who would fit in well at an academic conference, and who writes books that people don’t feel that they have to conceal behind the Serious Literature on their shelves.

        2. Susan Bordo says:

          Just to be clear, I take Mantel very much to task in the book for omitting episodes that would lend sympathy to Anne and then justifying it in her author’s note with reference to historical facts (which she’s got wrong). She says some things in her interview with me which I quote in agreement, but her books DO NOT get off the hook. I very strongly criticize the hypocrisy which condemns “pop” depictions for their inaccuracies, but treads lightly with work (or media productions) that are seen as more “serious” or literary. Mantel does not get off lightly in my book, I assure you. I praise what I see as praiseworthy in her books, but I criticize not only her depiction of Anne, but her invoking “history” to justify some very problematic distortions of history in order to “soften” Cromwell.

        3. Kyra says:

          Clare, I have not seen/read that interview and you make a very valid point. Of course, if I ever wrote fiction I would demonize Cromwell with glee, because he orchestrated the murder of Anne Boleyn, but I could claim it was “well-researched”. It’s a complex topic.

        4. Kyra Kramer says:

          Claire, I haven’t seen those and the knowledge of their existence does change my opinion about Mantel a little; I suspect she meant places/names/dates/events but in my opinion the “character” of fictional characters are as important to historical fiction accuracy. They should be as real as possible (which they cannot be from lack of information in a lot of cases) and the reader should be informed when they are altered for the sake of narrative. .

  3. Susan Bordo says:

    Just to be clear, I take Mantel very much to task in the book for omitting episodes that would lend sympathy to Anne and then justifying it in her author’s note with reference to historical facts (which she’s got wrong). She says some things in her interview with me which I quote in agreement, but her books DO NOT get off the hook. I very strongly criticize the hypocrisy which condemns “pop” depictions for their inaccuracies, but treads lightly with work (or media productions) that are seen as more “serious” or literary. Mantel does not get off lightly in my book, I assure you. I praise what I see as praiseworthy in her books, but I criticize not only her depiction of Anne, but her invoking “history” to justify some very problematic distortions of history in order to “soften” Cromwell.

    1. Sonetka says:

      Thanks for responding! That’s what I get for commenting without having read the book yet. I do get frustrated on the Mantel question because there’s so much that’s good about her books, but as I said before, I know quite a few people who would turn up their noses at anything featuring the “Headless Woman In Fancy Dress” cover but seemed to think that criticizing Mantel’s accuracy was somehow unfair.

    2. Mary Heneghan says:

      The way I look at the depiction of Anne we get from ‘Bring Up the Bodies’ is that we are expected to see her from Cromwell’s point of view. If this is the view of Anne that comes through, then I can see some justification for it.

      1. Susan Bordo says:

        Mary, I agree with what you say completely in theory, but I do question whether this is all that’s going on in both books. If you will all pardon me, rather than paraphrase here, I’ll just quote from my own book about the very valid point that Mary raises:

        “It seems clear, especially with the publication of Bring Up the Bodies, that Mantel’s Anne is not just an “offering” of how Cromwell might have seen her, but Mantel’s own rejoinder to the more sympathetic portraits of other writers and filmmakers.
        In both novels, for example, Mantel excludes some key historical material that, coincidentally, might cause readers to question (her) Cromwell’s view of Anne as a cold “strategist,” with whom he feels some identification but little affection, “a woman without remorse” who would “commit any sin or crime.”Among the most famous material that she rejects are Anne’s eloquent speeches at her trial and on the scaffold, left out, Mantel says in her author’s note, because they “should be read with skepticism.” The explanation via skepticism over the authenticity of this material is odd, not only because there are multiple corroborating reports of both speeches, but because she has just told readers that she claims no historical “authority” for her version of things. Certainly, she doesn’t let history get in the way of other narrative choices. For example, it’s a matter of historical record that Anne’s longtime ally Cranmer, shocked by Anne’s arrest, sat down to write a letter to Henry expressing his amazement at the charges and his belief in Anne’s virtue. His writing was interrupted (as Cranmer relates when he resumes) by a visit from Cromwell and his cronies. They apparently helped him “change his mind” about Anne’s guilt, for the letter ends very differently than it begins, with poor Cranmer, clearly quaking in his boots, acknowledging that she must be guilty. Mantel chooses not to tell us about Cromwell’s interruption, although, of course, it’s part of his story. But this detail would have made Cromwell seem like more of a thug than Mantel wants to present him.
        Mantel is creating a fiction, of course, and can do what she wants. But if she gives herself such free rein with Cranmer’s letter (and other incidents), it seems disingenuous to justify the absence of Anne’s speeches (and her final letter) on the basis of skepticism about their factual nature. Is this history or a novel? Mantel would be the first to acknowledge that it’s a novel. But her choices of what to include and what to eliminate from the historical record suggest that she (and not merely her Cromwell) is intent on building a case against Anne — not necessarily for the commission of the crimes with which she was accused (she leaves that ambiguous) but certainly as a cold, self-seeking manipulator.
        I love Mantel’s writing; no other novelist has given us such a textured, unsettlingly “real” re-creation of Henry’s court and the tight- rope nature of survival within it. But I can’t help wondering why, in an imaginative work of great depth and subtlety, we find the old, one- sided, extremist view of Anne as a wily schemer. Perhaps this is our “default” Anne, who insinuates herself in the imagination whenever we aren’t specifically focused on rehabilitating her.”

        1. Kyra says:

          I think I should have been more explicit in the review that Dr. Bordo did not give Mantel (or any fiction writer discussed) a free pass for inadequacies; it’s just that Philippa Gregory in particular has gone above and beyond in her historical shenanigans and the erroneous claims she makes in “defense” of her “accuracy”, which garnered her a deeper examination by Dr. Bordo. Addtionally, I reviewed Mantel’s books on my blog, and was trying not to become repetitive & look-at-me-famous-academics-agree-with-me about them, but I didn’t think about the fact that my reviews are MUCH less seen than posts here. Mea Culpa.

      2. Sonetka says:

        I agree to some extent — I’m not one who feels that Anne should always be flatteringly portrayed no matter whose point of view is being used (a book written from Princess Mary’s point of view would certainly portray her badly). Cromwell’s dislike of her isn’t the issue for me — I was more annoyed by things like Anne’s ladies-in-waiting, especially Lady Rochford, all voluntarily coming to Cromwell to spill the beans; I was especially puzzled as Mantel notes Julia Fox’s re-assessment of Lady Rochford in her afterword. Furthermore, all of the condemned men are depicted as nasty people who had it coming, especially Mark Smeaton — conveniently, Smeaton doesn’t have to be tortured, just gets so terrified he confesses. If this is supposed to be what *actually* happened, it’s tilted far, far too much in the direction keeping Cromwell sympathetic to a modern reader. If we’re supposed to believe that it didn’t actually happen like that, then clearly Cromwell’s inner narrative has gone so far into the realm of fantasy that there’s no point in reading the book. And while it doesn’t relate directly to Anne, I really disliked the nudge-nudge implication in “Wolf Hall” that Thomas More may have been just a little too close to his daughter. That’s a really serious accusation to make, even just in hints, and there are plenty of other things to accuse him of.

        1. Kyra Kramer says:

          When I read the book I thought Mantel was just hinting that More loved his daughter excessively and obsessively, not sexually. I can see where that would have implied, tho and agree that is a bit “too much”.

  4. Susan Bordo says:

    Hey, no need to apologize, Kyra!!! I LOVED your review. No reviewer can be expected to hit all the notes of a book, particularly a book like this that covers 500 years and multiple genres. You are absolutely right that I spend much more time on Gregory than Mantel, and to see the critique of Gregory as a major “take-away” from the chapter (called “Chapuys’ Revenge”!! In it, I discuss many versions of the cultural bitch, including current pop television ones–no review could possible cover it all.). For me, the great thing is that we have forums (fora?) like Claire’s, to discuss, process, clarify, contest all the complexities and subtleties. So I thank you both, and give you major e-hugs….

    1. Kyra Kramer says:

      *blush with pleasure*

      1. Kyra Kramer says:

        *also moue of modesty*

  5. Mary Heneghan says:

    Thank you for your reply, Susan. Yes, I can see from Mantel’s exclusion of some key historical facts that she is being selective in her portrayal of Anne and is showing her own bias towards her. Having said that, I have thoroughly enjoyed both books and look forward to the third. I can’t wait to read your book and get your take on the various views of Anne. Hopefully the Kindle edition will not be too long in coming.

    1. Susan Bordo says:

      I also enjoyed her books–very much. And the kindle of mine is available right now.

      1. Mary Heneghan says:

        Just to let you know, Susan that the Kindle version is not available on Amazon. I contacted them and they suggested getting in touch with the author or the publisher. I wonder is it just not downloadable for international readers. You may not see this comment, but I’m posting it just in case.

        1. Susan BorDo says:

          Mary, are you trying to order from the UK amazon? Because there’s going to be a British edition, there are legal constraints on them. But I know it’s available from the US amazon. If you can’t get it there, please do let me know, because that shouldn’t be the case, and will need to be fixed! Thanks for letting me know about this issue, Susan

        2. Claire says:

          UK customers are tied to Amazon UK, unfortunately, for buying Kindle books.

  6. Dawn 1st says:

    Sounds like the book is a must read.
    Good review Kyra, truthful also, not many authors would admit their own book was critisised in it too, 🙂 , credit to you.

    I agree with you when you say that the many midwives from the past where very skilled at what they did, I have read a few books on the subject, one was A Midwife’s Tale, taken from the diary of Martha Ballard in 1785-1812, and a couple of others on later times. Their art of manipulation to deliver babies laying in difficult positions was fascinating to say the least, ok maybe these practises were not done in the most sterile of places, but they did save a lot of mothers who had other children to care for, more so than the male Doctors who systematically took over and ousted out these midwives in the end. A very interesting subject., could you recommend any other books on this subject? would be very grateful.
    Can I just ask when you wrote about child mortality not being as high as expected even in Tudor times, because of the Church registers, can they be relied on? am I right to say that registration didn’t start until about 1538, and did all infant/baby deaths get registered? just curious to know on how accurate these registers were…

    Ms. Bordo’s book sounds like a must read, and can’t wait until it becomes available.

    1. Kyra Kramer says:

      Thank you, Dawn!

      I strongly recommend David Cressy’s Birth, Marriage, Death for general information about birth & midwives, because that book is all kinds of good. I got my perspective on midwives from med-anth more than history, but med-anth books almost always have to do huge chunks of historical background to track cultural development so I can recommend Brigitte Jordan, Robbie Davis-Floyd, and any anthropologists who focus on birth.

  7. maritzal says:

    Its amazing that after so many years like more than 500 years were still fascinated about the Boleyn’s and Henry VIII I guess we will forever research of them how they were and what made Henry tick what ever the truth may be we will truly not really know the whole truth only the one’s that lived it know the truth and nothing but the truth maybe one day thx sincerely Maritzal. Xxxx

  8. maritzal says:

    I hope one day I can get my hands on some books right now I’m having my time devoted to my daughter she’s going through something very difficult and painful. That I have to help and try to get her the help she so desperately needs but anyway thx for all the information about ann boleyn and the tudor family thx maritzal

    1. Mary Heneghan says:

      I hope things work out for your daughter.

      1. Susan Bordo says:

        I also wish you the best. I have a fourteen-year-old and when things aren’t going well for her, everything else stops for me!

        1. Kyra Kramer says:

          I am also one who has let motherhood eclipsed everything else. I hope things go well for you and your daughter!

  9. Robert Inness says:

    I am new to this site, but what a joy it is.
    Anything about the Boleyn,s is just magic.


  10. BanditQueen says:

    Hi Claire, Have just done some delving into Creation of Anne Boleyn by Susan Bordo, and I think some of your criticism is not founded. You have to remember Dr Bordo is not a historian, she is a Chair in Humanities and is most probably interested in the social studies or the media and cultural image behind Anne Boleyn, which is what the book is about. Having said that, there are some errors that should have been checked prior to publication, one in particular hit me when she twice referred Anne to an unusual woman of the 15th century. Dr Bordo obviously cannot count as Anne did not live in the 15th century, she lived in the 16th century, and it is a common mistake that many people make, but one that unfortunately drives me as a historian mad! There is no excuse for a fundamental and simple error like this and as it is mentioned twice in one short quote: as well as in other places, it cannot be dismissed as a printing error. Why cannot people who claim to be educated get it right: when talking about the number of a century: you add one: it is not rocket science.

    But to get back to the point that I actually wanted to make having been distracted by the detailed review above. Dr Bordo claims to separate the myths that films, books, websites, blogs and so on have to offer of the subject of Anne Boleyn and goes on to add that their are two camps: the people who are die had in support of Catherine of Aragon and so hate Anne Boleyn and there are sites like this one that go to other extreme and promote Anne as a very good person and a lady to be admired. However, I was concerned that she revealed that your site has attracted some that are less than civil in their disagreement. I do not agree with everything on the site but I respect the views of you and others that do find they are Anne Boleyn fans. I agree with Dr Bordo that one should be able to do so without being stupid, idiots, hateful, angry, using potty mouths and without making personal attacks on those who have a different view. I was also shocked that you had received threats and personal insults by those who hate Anne Boleyn as they do not like a site that promotes a positive image of Anne Boleyn. It is a disgrace that this should happen and I am correctly shocked.

    I have noted on several forums that there are numerous people who use the debate to insult others. It is like children quarrelling in the school yard; not sensible debate. Why can people not engage in discussion without being idiots? Why can people not argue a point without first calling someone else a horrible name? You may not have the same Conservative view of Anne Boleyn as someone but that does not give anyone the right to insult you. I enjoy this site, but have had to tell people off occasionally as they are engaging in potty mouth abuse! Fortunately most people debate seriously and with respect and the site flourishes because of the richness of the debate and many views. A pity some others cannot say so as well or are not able to make a point without acting as if they do not have any brains.

    The material on the site is really rich. Long may cultural debate continue. Thank you for a good review: just wish that there were more books that critical analyze the academic prowess.

    1. Claire says:

      What criticism? I haven’t finished reading it yet and haven’t reviewed it. So far I think it is excellent. Do you mean Kyra’s review?

      Yes, I have received some very abusive and threatening emails, and have found it quite disturbing how some people behave online. I love running this site and I’m glad that people, on the whole, enjoy using it. Thank you.

    2. Vermillion says:

      In fairness to Bordo, the 15th/16th century slip was probably a typo rather than an intentional mistake. Of course it would be nice if everything in a text is spot-on, but I find that these days it’s rare to read a history book that doesn’t contain one factual slip or other of this nature. Put it down to author typing too fast in the first place and publisher spending less time and money getting the text copy-edited after it has been submitted to them – whoever read the text for the publisher didn’t spot this either!

      1. Kyra Kramer says:

        I know when I’m writing my brain “corrects” sentences so I (literally) don’t “see” the mistakes until a year later.

  11. Susan Bordo says:

    I’m puzzled about the 15th century mistake you refer to. Where exactly does it occur? My book was proof-read not only by me and my historian research assistant, Natalie Sweet, but by my editor at the press and a very exacting professional copy-editor at the press. PLUS Suzannah Lipscomb read it while it was still in production and furnished me with a list of typos and other mistakes. I thought we had caught any pure “goofs”–although of course we undoubtedly did not catch every substantive error. This one sounds like a goof–as of course I know when Anne lived, have studied Anne for 7 years, have taught the history of modernity for over 25 years, and wrote my doctoral dissertation (“The Flight to Objectivity,” which was published in 1987 and still used in classes) on the transformation from the medieval to the modern world. Can you tell me exactly where you found this? If it is in a quote (as you suggested), then it would not have been my mistake, but the person I quoted. Some of my interviewees were fairly young, and I didn’t ever “[sic]” any of my interviewees because I felt it important to quote people exactly as they spoke/wrote. If I myself goofed in this way, you are the first person to notice it and I thank you!!! But I assure you, it doesn’t reflect my historical knowledge.

    1. Kyra Kramer says:

      I didn’t catch it either, but I was “caught up” in the narrative and you could have started misspelling all ands as adn at that point and it would have slipped by me.

  12. Tudorrose says:

    Must buy! 🙂

  13. Susan BorDo says:

    I’m so sorry about the UK kindle restriction!!! I hope the British edition moves along quickly, which will solve these problems. Perhaps you could consider buying a used hardback from amazon US, France, or Italy?

  14. Mary Heneghan says:

    Susan and Claire, I think I may be falling between two stools. Living in Ireland, up until last week we have had to buy exclusively from, but from last week we can choose between and I have bought a book on since then with no trouble, but can’t buy yours, Susan. I may just have to wait until things have settled. I am just dying to read it.

  15. Susan Bordo says:

    Mary, I think something is going on between the Amazons! I’m sure my publisher will find out what’s happening…but if you don’t want to wait for things to settle, you can order from The Book Depository (postage free) or (also postage free). Thanks for your interest and sorry for the seller mess! As you can imagine, I’m not too happy about it myself.

    1. Mary Heneghan says:

      Thanks Susan. I will give it a little while and if nothing seems to be happening, I will order from one of the sites you mention. The best of luck with the sales.

  16. Susan Bordo says:

    I just checked on the site and The Book Depository is your best bet, with free international shipping:

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