Books: Madame la Serpente

ST. BARTHOLOMEW'S NIGHT (285 pp.) —Philippe Erlanger—Pantheon ($5).

It is so horrifying that a large basketful of babies should have been dumped in the Seine that perhaps it can be no more horrifying that this was done in the name of God. Yet religious massacres always trouble history's onlookers; the intensity of their revulsion is matched only by the enthusiasm of the participants.

St. Bartholomew's Night is an account of the August madness in 1572, when a confluence of chance, state policy and the religious hatreds of the Reformation caused the murder of at least 2,000, and perhaps as many as 100,000, Protestants....

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