Heretics and Heroes: How Renaissance Artists and Reformation Priests Created Our World

Thomas Cahill. Doubleday, $30.50 (368p) ISBN 978-0-385-49557-8
Between the late 15th century and the early 17th century, Luther nailed his 95 Theses to a church door, Henry VIII declared himself England’s supreme ruler, and Michelangelo created several masterpieces that still attract millions of tourists to Italy each year. Cahill (How the Irish Saved Civilization) cheerfully explains the enduring value of the Renaissance and Reformation movements to 21st century Western principles, injecting humor and a conversational style into well-written and easily accessible chapters centering on controversial issues and mesmerizing personalities. The illuminating discussion covers key figures such as the inventive da Vinci and the good-natured Erasmus—while showing no affection for covetous and gluttonous Henry VIII—as well as the high cost of the spread of religious dissent across Europe. Well-chosen illustrations and discreetly placed asides clarify his arguments without overwhelming or speaking down to readers. In this remarkable fourth installment of his Hinges of History series, Cahill writes passionately about the era’s transformational art, the unexpected benefits of the Black Plague, and the intellectual struggles over secular and papal power, resulting in an entertaining yet thought-provoking examination of Western civilization. Agent: Lynn Nesbit, Janklow & Nesbit Assoc. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/05/2013
Release date: 10/29/2013
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