A revolutionary look at Martin Luther, the Reformation, and the birth of publishing on the eve of the Reformation's 500th anniversary.
When an obscure monk named Martin Luther tacked his theses on the door of the Wittenberg church in 1517, protesting corrupt practices, he was virtually unknown. Within months his ideas spread across Germany then all of Europe; within years their author was not just famous but infamous, responsible for catalyzing the violent wave of religious reform that would come to be known as the Protestant Reformation and engulfing Europe in decades of bloody war. Luther came of age with the printing press, and the path to glory of neither one was obvious to the casual observer of the time.
Andrew Pettegree is perhaps our most distinguished living historian of the print revolution, but he launched his career as a historian of the Reformation. That double vision positions him to comprehend this epic event not simply as a religious story but also as a story about how ideas were carried and spread in new ways by new things - things called mass-produced books. Printing was and is a risky business - the questions were how to know how much to print and how to get there before the competition. Pettegree illustrates Luther's great gift not simply as a theologian but as a communicator - indeed, as the world's first mass-media figure, its first brand. He recognized in printing the power of pamphlets, written in the colloquial German of everyday people, to win the battle of ideas. But that wasn't enough - not just words but the medium itself was the message.
Fatefully, Luther had a partner in Wittenberg in the form of artist and businessman Lucas Cranach, who, together with Wittenberg's printers, created the look of Luther's pamphlets, which included the distinct highlighting of the words "Martin Luther of Wittenberg" on the title page. Cranach also created the iconic portraits of Luther that made the reformer such a familiar figure to his fellow Germans. Together Luther and Cranach created a product that spread like wildfire - it was both incredibly successful and widely imitated. Soon Germany was overwhelmed by a blizzard of pamphlets, with Wittenberg at its heart; the Reformation itself would blaze on for more than a hundred years.
Publishing in advance of the Reformation's 500th anniversary, Brand Luther fuses the history of religion, of printing, and of capitalism - the literal marketplace of ideas - into one enthralling story, revolutionizing our understanding of one of the pivotal figures and eras in all of human history.
We've sent an email with your order details. Order ID #:
To access this title, visit your library in the app or on the desktop website.
- Bill Martin
Very Good . . . But Where's the Last Chapter?
This book is excellent. It's well written and makes a unique and helpful contribution to the literature currently being published for the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation. Given the information explosion of our day and the still new and ever-changing media of the internet, Pettegree's approach in this study—looking to the new and changing medium of movable print and woodcuts at the time of the Reformation—helps provide insight into similarities and differences between our time and Luther's.
Moreover, the recording of this audiobook is good. Paul Hecht has an excellent voice for narration and tends to handle pronunciation of names and places very well. There are a few times where it seems that he (or the recording) pauses in the middle of a word or sentence in an odd way that has the possibility of obscuring meaning. But these instances are rare.
However, I could not give this audiobook as many "stars" as it deserves because it cut off the whole last chapter of Pettegree's book!
Let em be clear—I'm not referring to the Acknowledgments at the end of the book, or an Appendix, or even an Afterward or Epilogue. This audiobook, which is labeled as "Unabridged," is missing the entire 12th Chapter—"Legacy"—found in the Fourth Part of the book. That's about 30 pages of primary text, summing up and concluding the thesis of the book, that are simply not a part of the "unabridged" audiobook.
It's strange because the end of the 11th Chapter clearly sets up the discussion of the 12th chapter. The word "legacy," which is the name of the 12th chapter, is mentioned multiple times in the last paragraph of the 11th chapter. That paragraph prepares the reader for the coming reflection on "the struggle for Luther's legacy" and the "debate over Luther [that] would follow" which "would embroil former friends in furious disagreement as his movement split into contesting branches," etc. Clearly, these are not the concluding lines of a book that has for over 300 pages, not left any of its themes hanging as loose-ends.
Where is the last chapter? And why doesn't Audible warn us that the book is not complete and "unabridged?"
- Nicholas Forti