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This week (through total coincidence rather than any careful planning on my part I hasten to add) we have an interesting juxtaposition of two biographies and two works on religious history.

It’s certainly difficult to draw any obvious parallels between the careers of Catherine the Great and Imre Nagy, but a better-funded Reviews would certainly offer readers a prize for successfully doing so – see whether anything springs to mind and compare Zoltán Csipke’s review of Imre Nagy: a Biography by János Rainer (no. 880) with James Cracraft’s of Catherine the Great by Simon Dixon (no. 881).

There’s also a world of difference between the mixture of theological and penal history found in Laurie Throness’s A Protestant Purgatory: Theological Origins of the Penitentiary Act, 1779 (no. 882, reviewed by Greg Smith with a response by the author here), and Forms of Faith in 16th-Century Italy, a collection of essays edited by Abigail Brundin and Matthew Treherne which looks at the religious culture of 16th–century Italy (review no. 883, by Michael Bury).