Dracula’s Dark World by Michael Burgan 32 pages
What an excellent book on the national hero of Romania, Vlad Tepes! And the illustrations are practically 3-D. Beautifully done, they could be oil paintings, gorgeous. The biography is so well done, and so imaginatively presented I can’t compliment it enough. The background of the Dracula name is given. His father, Vlad the II, was a member of the Order of the Dragon, a group much like the Knights Templor. Drakul is Romanian for Dragon and Drakula is Romanian for Son of the Dragon, it was pointed out after Vlad started impaling the enemies of his family (they kept him, his father and one of his brothers in jail for years even later beheading his father and killing his brother as well) that Drakul can also mean devil. Vlad fought the Turks when they began their crusade to take over Europe. While Vlad didn’t have a problem with impaling his enemies he also had a warm fuzzy side on occasion, as he was also loved by many peasants for keeping crime down due to his harsh punishments. He took care of the people in his realm protecting them from the invaders and he even cut their taxes and gave some of them land. They enjoyed the fact that he did not cater to the rich for if a rich person committed a crime he dealt with them the same as any other perpetrator. Bribery had been common in the past. Vlad abolished bribery and made believers out of everyone. The photos of the locations in Transylvania, Wallachia, etc. and the maps showing the territory being discussed both then and now, give the reader a perfect view of what was going on and how borders fluctuate. The Turks were an ominous presence back in the 1400s and their quest for domination of the continent would have been scary to go up against. But after the life Vlad had led, fear was not a problem. The reader will enjoy the history lesson, the geography lesson and the biography of an often maligned but fascinating character known world wide (thank you Bram stoker). The tales both good and bad of a many faceted historical figure who hated tyrants and believed in extreme retribution of his enemies have survived for nearly 600 years now and his eccentricities will be the stuff bringing tourists to Turgoviste till the end of time. This book gets 5 gold stars from me for terrific.