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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

“Dracula, Prince of Many Faces: His Life and His Times”, by Radu Florescu and Raymond T. McNally

261 pages, Little, Brown and Company, ISBN-13: 978-0316286558

Like most modern readers and movie fans, I was pretty familiar with Bram Stoker's Dracula as, first and foremost, a stock horror character, but as an amateur student of history I was always much more intrigued by the man alluded to by the books and films; namely, Prince Vlad III, alias Vlad the Impaler, alias Dracula. In Dracula, Prince of Many Faces: His Life and His Times by co-authors Radu Florescu and Raymond McNally, many missing details fill in the gaps on the upbringing, history, family and place in the world of Eastern Europe and the Carpathian Mountains of Vlad Țepeș. The narrative is clear and well written and it is not too academic in tone, summarizing and explaining as it does a rather opaque and complex history in an unknown part of the world (to most Americans, at any rate) while citing actual contemporary sources to give more life and flavor an already exciting story. And you can ask for no two better guides, either, for Florescu and McNally are, perhaps, the greatest modern experts on Dracula one can have the fortune to encounter, telling one everything from the nature of Bram Stoker’s novel – which they cover in the introduction to ease the reader into place – as well as the obscure details of history involving this semi-mythicized man, such as passionate jousts in which Dracula’s father took place or the education of the young prince impaler. Regrettably, Prince of Many Faces is not written in chronological order; events jump around, as do dates, so one unfamiliar with the history of Romania and the Impaler should be wary, but to a well-researched scholar on the topic of Vlad Dracula, or someone well-read but curious, this book is a great aid. Overall, Florescu and McNally succeeded in writing the greatest book on Dracula in the English language.

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