- Used Books
- Kobo eReading
- Staff Picks
- Gifts & Gift Cards
- Sell Books
- Stores & Events
Special Offers see all
More at Powell's
Recently Viewed clear list
Ships in 1 to 3 days
The Grand Inquisitor's Manual: A History of Terror in the Name of Godby Jonathan Kirsch
Synopses & Reviews
The twelfth century birthed a new and sinister brand of sanctioned terror, an international network of secret police and courts, an army of inquisitors whose sworn duty was to seek out anyone regarded as an enemy, and a casualty list numbering in the tens of thousands. The original agents of the Inquisition—priests and monks, scribes and notaries, attorneys and accountants, torturers and executioners—were deputized by the Church and their worst excesses were excused as the pardonable sins of soldiers engaged in a holy war against heresy that became the obsession of Christendom. Yet the first rumblings of Western civilization's great engine of persecution provided no indication of the ultimate scope and influence of the inquisitorial toolkit and how the crimes of the first inquisitors were perpetrated again and again into the twentieth century and beyond. Despite the importance of this legacy, the history of the Inquisition remains a subject that has largely been overlooked by general historians.
With The Grand Inquisitor's Manual, national bestselling author Jonathan Kirsch delivers a sweeping and provocative history that explores how the Inquisition was honed to perfection and brought to bear on an ever-widening circle of victims by authoritarians in both church and state for over six hundred years. Ranging from the Knights Templar to the first Protestants, from Joan of Arc to Galileo; from the torture and murder of hundreds of thousands of innocent women during the Witch Craze to its greatest power in Spain after 1492, when the secret tribunals and torture chambers were directed for the first time against Jews and Muslims to the modern war on terror—Kirsch shows us how the Inquisition stands as a universal and ineradicable symbol of the terror that results when absolute power works its corruptions.
The history of the Inquisition is draped in myth and mystery, a favorite theme of both artists and propagandists throughout the six hundred years of its active operations. Yet when we pull aside the veil, what we see are the original blueprints for the machinery of persecution that was invented in the High Middle Ages and applied to human flesh ever since. The Grand Inquisitor's Manualexposes the dangerous circular logic of the Inquisition so that we do not perpetuate its brand of terror.
"Mention the Inquisition to any informed person and you're likely to garner a response somewhere between horror and disgust. Kirsch, a prolific writer and documenter of our past (A History of the End of the World; Gods Against the Gods), offers up an amazing recounting of the abuses by clergy and state in those terrible times. Clinical in its descriptions, the narrative's lively and crisp prose brings us right into the torture chamber, shining a much-needed light into the mindset of the church and its representatives. Alarmingly, the author insists that although the Inquisition is but a memory for us today, the inquisitional mindset is alive and well. Kirsch discovers many examples in more modern and familiar history: the Salem witch trials, Hitler's Germany, Roosevelt's placing Japanese-Americans in interment camps and Senator McCarthy's Communist-hunting. All of these injustices, he says, find their root in the same sense of power and privilege. Kirsch's forceful and cautionary account is essential reading for historians and anyone who wants to understand the potential dark side of religion." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
About the Author
Jonathan Kirsch is the author of ten books, including the national bestseller The Harlot by the Side of the Road: Forbidden Tales of the Bible, and his most recent work, the Los Angeles Times bestseller A History of the End of the World. Kirsch is also a book columnist for the Los Angeles Times, a broadcaster for NPR affiliates KCRW-FM and KPCC-FM in Southern California, an Adjunct Professor on the faculty of New York University, and an attorney specializing in publishing law and intellectual property in Los Angeles. Kirsch is also a member of the National Book Critics Circle and a three-time past president of PEN Center USA West.
What Our Readers Are Saying
Other books you might like
History and Social Science » Western Civilization » General