Heretics and Heroes
How Renaissance Artists and Reformation Priests Created Our World
By Thomas Cahill
(Anchor, Paperback, 9780385495585, 368pp.)
Publication Date: August 12, 2014
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In Volume VI of his acclaimed Hinges of History series, Thomas Cahill guides us through a time so full of innovation that the Western world would not again experience its like until the twentieth century: the new humanism of the Renaissance and the radical religious alterations of the Reformation.
This was an age in which whole continents and peoples were discovered. It was an era of sublime artistic and scientific adventure, but also of newly powerful princes and armies—and of unprecedented courage, as thousands refused to bow their heads to the religious pieties of the past. In these exquisitely written and lavishly illustrated pages, Cahill illuminates, as no one else can, the great gift-givers who shaped our history—those who left us a world more varied and complex, more awesome and delightful, more beautiful and strong than the one they had found.
Thomas Cahill’s appealing approach to distant history has won the attention of millions of readers in North America and beyond. Cahill is the author of five previous volumes in the Hinges of History series: How the Irish Saved Civilization, The Gifts of the Jews, Desire of the Everlasting Hills, Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea, and Mysteries of the Middle Ages. They have been bestsellers not only in the United States but also in countries ranging from Italy to Brazil. He is also the author of A Saint on Death Row.
“Cahill is our king of popular historians, and rightly so. He is eminently learned and wise . . . opinionated and unsparing in his view of history.” —The Dallas Morning News
“A great achievement. . . . Seemingly effortless illumination of the Renaissance and the Reformation.” —James S. Shapiro, author of Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare?
“In much writing of history, the erudition of the authors is evident: even the footnotes have footnotes. But now and then we get to read history that is, simply, interesting. Tom Cahill is the master in this genre. He knows what the specialists know, but his form of scholarly art lets readers be freshly lured into the plot. He is the virtuoso of genres and moves easily from one to another in such a way that we find ourselves informed and inspired.
Some years ago Rabbi Samuel Sandmel wrote a book on The Enjoyment of Scripture. What a shocking thought, that a noted scholar thought his writing could be enjoyed! In his series, The Hinges of History, and especially in his newest book, Heretics and Heroes, Cahill shocks by writing for reader-enjoyment—which is the best way to advance learning. I am glad to be in the company of enjoyers and learners.”
—Martin E. Marty, Fairfax M. Cone Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus, The University of Chicago
“Remarkable. . . . An entertaining yet thought-provoking examination of Western civilization.” —Publishers Weekly (starred)
“Wonderful. . . . Shows how events and a change in philosophical views can uproot and reconfigure entire civilizations.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred)