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Publisher's Summary

The Inquisition conducted its last execution in 1826-the victim was a Spanish schoolmaster convicted of heresy. But as Cullen Murphy shows in this provocative new work, not only did its offices survive into the 20th century, in the modern world its spirit is more influential than ever. God's Jury encompasses the diverse stories of the Knights Templar, Torquemada, Galileo, and Graham Greene. Established by the Catholic Church in 1231, the Inquisition continued in one form or another for almost seven hundred years. Though associated with the persecution of heretics and Jews - and with burning at the stake - its targets were more numerous and its techniques more ambitious. The Inquisition pioneered surveillance and censorship and "scientific" interrogation. As time went on, its methods and mindset spread far beyond the Church to become tools of secular persecution. Traveling from freshly opened Vatican archives to the detention camps of Guantánamo to the filing cabinets of the Third Reich, Murphy traces the Inquisition and its legacy.
With the combination of vivid immediacy and learned analysis that characterized his acclaimed Are We Rome?, Murphy puts a human face on a familiar but little-known piece of our past, and argues that only by understanding the Inquisition can we hope to explain the making of the present.
©2012 Cullen Murphy (P)2012 Tantor
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Critic Reviews

"When virtue arms itself - beware! Lucid, scholarly, elegantly told, God's Jury is as gripping as it is important." (James Carroll)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Warwriter 1939 on 05-05-12

Disappointing

Any additional comments?

No more books with "modern world" in its title. I was hoping for a history of the Inquisitions, but I got to here more about Guantanamo than I really wanted.

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8 of 9 people found this review helpful


By Sean on 05-15-12

A balanced review based on new material

I really enjoyed the book but I wish he spent more time on the Church and the Inquisition(s) themselves. Although the premise concerns how the Inquisition shaped the modern world, there is not much new in the last quarter of the book.

It begins by explaining that there were actually 3 major Inquisitions, the Medieval, Spanish and Roman, each with its own personality. He then delves into the historical context and actual transcripts from the trials. The latter have only recently been made available by the Vatican which makes this an early work of an entirely new genre of historically researched scholarship in this area.

He takes care to point out that the reality is less sensational than the myth. He is also eager to present a view of the Inquisition that is not driven by any particular agenda, and here he succeeds. He is neither a Church apologist nor a torch bearing towns-person.

Unfortunately, the last quarter of the book provides a lengthy discussion of Nazi Germany, McCarthyism and Guantanamo Bay and tries to paint them as latter day Inquisitions. I did not find the comparison particularly insightful (Can't nearly any act of official oppression be likened to the Inquisitions?) and the book lost momentum for me in the end.

The performance was very good--thoughtful, well paced and clear.

I would recommend it to someone interested in the Inquisitions, but lower your expectations for the "making of the modern world" aspect.

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7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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