God's Jury

The Inquisition and the Making of the Modern World

By Cullen Murphy
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Hardcover, 9780618091560, 320pp.)

Publication Date: January 17, 2012

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Description

“The Inquisition is a dark mark in the history of the Catholic Church. But it was not the first inquisition nor the last, as Cullen Murphy shows in this far-ranging, informed, and (dare one say?) witty account of its reach down to our own time, in worldly affairs more than ecclesiastical ones.” — Margaret O’Brien Steinfels, former editor, Commonweal

The Inquisition conducted its last execution in 1826 — the victim was a Spanish schoolmaster convicted of heresy. But as Cullen Murphy shows in this provocative new work, not only did its offices survive into the twentieth century, in the modern world its spirit is more influential than ever.

God’s Jury
encompasses the diverse stories of the Knights Templar, Torquemada, Galileo, and Graham Greene. Established by the Catholic Church in 1231, the Inquisition continued in one form or another for almost seven hundred years. Though associated with the persecution of heretics and Jews — and with burning at the stake — its targets were more numerous and its techniques more ambitious. The Inquisition pioneered surveillance and censorship and “scientific” interrogation. As time went on, its methods and mindset spread far beyond the Church to become tools of secular persecution. Traveling from freshly opened Vatican archives to the detention camps of Guantánamo to the filing cabinets of the Third Reich, Murphy traces the Inquisition and its legacy.

With the combination of vivid immediacy and learned analysis that characterized his acclaimed Are We Rome?, Murphy puts a human face on a familiar but little-known piece of our past, and argues that only by understanding the Inquisition can we hope to explain the making of the present.




About the Author

Cullen Murphy is the editor at large at Vanity Fair and the former managing editor of the Atlantic Monthly. He is the author of Are We Rome?, The Word According to Eve, and the essay collection Just Curious.




NPR
Monday, Jan 23, 2012

The Inquisition revolutionized record-keeping and surveillance techniques that are still used today, says Cullen Murphy. His new book God's Jury draws parallels between some of the interrogation techniques used in previous centuries with the ones used today. More at NPR.org

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NPR
Sunday, Jan 22, 2012

When it comes to learning an instrument, children have the edge in many respects. Using himself as a guinea pig, psychology professor Gary Marcus resolved to find out whether nonmusical adults have any chance of turning things around. More at NPR.org

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