The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara (Paperback)
Vintage, 9780679768173, 368pp.
Publication Date: June 30, 1998
A National Book Award Finalist
The extraordinary story of how the vatican's imprisonment of a six-year-old Jewish boy in 1858 helped to bring about the collapse of the popes' worldly power in Italy.
Bologna: nightfall, June 1858. A knock sounds at the door of the Jewish merchant Momolo Mortara. Two officers of the Inquisition bust inside and seize Mortara's six-year-old son, Edgardo. As the boy is wrenched from his father's arms, his mother collapses. The reason for his abduction: the boy had been secretly "baptized" by a family servant. According to papal law, the child is therefore a Catholic who can be taken from his family and delivered to a special monastery where his conversion will be completed.
With this terrifying scene, prize-winning historian David I. Kertzer begins the true story of how one boy's kidnapping became a pivotal event in the collapse of the Vatican as a secular power. The book evokes the anguish of a modest merchant's family, the rhythms of daily life in a Jewish ghetto, and also explores, through the revolutionary campaigns of Mazzini and Garibaldi and such personages as Napoleon III, the emergence of Italy as a modern national state. Moving and informative, the Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara reads as both a historical thriller and an authoritative analysis of how a single human tragedy changed the course of history.
About the Author
Praise For The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara…
"A thrilling history... Kertzer's careful scholarship and fine narrative skill make a great drama."- Boston Globe
"A lucidly drawn, dramatic narrative. Kertzer's account reads like a courtroom drama. As shapely and surprising as fiction."- Newsday
"Brilliant... a book that has all the merits of a historical thriller."- Daily News