Brand Luther: How an Unheralded Monk Turned His Small Town into a Center of Publishing, Made Himself the Most Famous Man in Europe—and Started the Protestant Reformation

Andrew Pettegree. Penguin Press, $29.95 (400p) ISBN 978-1-59420-496-8
British historian Pettegree (The Invention of News), professor of modern history at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, takes a new look at 16th-century theologist Martin Luther and how his complaints against Rome might have been ignored were it not for their dissemination through the new invention of the printing press. Pettegree follows Luther’s career not from the point of view of theology and reform, but as a masterfully managed use of technology by a savvy promoter. Luther understood how printing worked; to get his message to the general public, he wrote clear, short pamphlets in German that could be printed and sold locally within a few days. Pettegree emphasizes the importance of Luther’s innovations to publishing, including his collaboration with artist and entrepreneur Lucas Cranach, who designed Luther’s frontispieces and carved woodcuts of the author. Luther’s copious writings, in both German and Latin, made him the most published author in Europe; he also autographed books and wrote glowing recommendations for other reformers. Pettegree notes that Catholic refutations of Luther existed but were printed less because “those of Luther’s supporters sold much better.” Readers with experience in publishing will be amazed by how little has changed. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 08/31/2015
Release date: 10/27/2015
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 400 pages - 978-0-399-56323-2
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