Dogs of God: Columbus, the Inquisition, and the Defeat of the Moors

James Reston, Jr., Author Doubleday $27.95 (363p) ISBN 978-0-385-50848-3

Veteran journalist and author Reston brings to life three key elements of Spanish history that intertwined in 1492. Columbus takes a back seat to the Inquisition and the defeat of Islamic Granada, but plays a key role in demonstrating their relationship to the rise of empire and the modern state. Reston (Warriors of God ; Galileo ) has done tremendous research, though the shadows of his mostly older sources tend to show in stereotypes of the treasure-hungry, Machiavellian Ferdinand and the handsome adventurer Columbus charming Isabella. While he reduces the order of Dominicans to their role as inquisitors, he generally does justice to the complexities of his subject, examining the worlds of Christians, Muslims and Jews with sympathy and irony, and incorporating portraits of several lesser-known figures. The Inquisition emerges from political as much as religious circumstances, and the clerics presented run the gamut from saints to careerists, rabble-rousing preachers and prophets. Parallel civil wars in Christian and Muslim Spain and images of mobs on both sides suggest the interplay of popular feeling, government policy and theological debate. Despite minor disappointments in the details, this is a highly entertaining, thoughtful and complex narrative that both introduces and analyzes a greatly misunderstood era. Agent, Joseph Regal . (On sale Oct. 11)

Reviewed on: 08/15/2005
Release date: 10/01/2005
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