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God's Jury The Inquisition and the Making of the Modern World by Cullen Murphy

God's Jury The Inquisition and the Making of the Modern World

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God's Jury The Inquisition and the Making of the Modern World by Cullen Murphy

For centuries states have used their power to censor information, to conduct surveillance, to impose belief, to manipulate and to punish. Cullen Murphy's extraordinary, provocative new book explores the idea that the Inquisition - the Catholic body that existed in Europe (and beyond) for over 700 years - is not a medieval oddity, but is intrinsically bound up with the creation of the modern world. God's Jury shows how the creation of the Inquisition epitomized the moment when the West passed from one kind of world to another, and when persecution acquired a distinctly modern platform: requiring record-keeping, a law system, communication structures, bureaucracy, an educated professional class - and a terrifying sense of certainty. Exploring the Inquisition from its establishment in 1231 onwards, Murphy argues that not only did its offices survive into the twentieth century, its spirit lingers on in the modern world too. Travelling from freshly opened Vatican archives to the detention camps of Guantanamo and the filing cabinets of the Third Reich, he traces the Inquisition's legacy to show how, as time went on, its techniques became the standard operating procedure of secular persecution. With vivid immediacy and authority, God's Jury portrays the Inquisition as a new phase in the battle between the individual private conscience and the forces that try to contain it. It is, Murphy argues, a central contest of the modern era and the centuries that lie ahead.


Lucid and provocative...a clear and often chilling guide to the inquisition's excesses...a cogent and powerful book...a persuasive argument that we still live in the world the inquisition made -- Dominic Sandbrook Sunday Times A grand and scary tour of inquisitorial moments, racing back and forth in history from Torquemada to Dick Cheney, and from Guantanamo to Rome; we are there when Giordano Bruno is burned to death, on the orders of Cardinal Bellarmine, and then we are asked to compare our own readiness to torture when what we fear threatens us. Murphy's point [is] entirely convincing...[his] tone is calm, even good-humored, but he can vibrate to the victims
preserved cries for mercy

-- Adam Gopnik New Yorker In his typically compelling style...Murphy powerfully shows that the impulse to inquisition can quietly take root in any system-civil or religious-that orders our lives Publisher's Weekly Cullen Murphy's account of the Inquisition is a dark but riveting tale, told with luminous grace. The Inquisition, he shows us, represents more than a historical episode of religious persecution.The drive to root out heresy and sin, once and for all, is emblematic of the modern age and a persisting danger in our time -- Michael J. Sandel, author of Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do? God's Jury is a reminder, and we need to be constantly reminded, that the most dangerous people in the world are the righteous, and when they wield real power, look out. At once global and chillingly intimate in its reach, the Inquisition turns out to have been both more and less awful than we thought. Murphy wears his erudition lightly, writes with quiet wit, and has a delightful way of seeing the past in the present -- Mark Bowden, author of 'Guest of the Ayatollah
From Torquemada to Guantanamo and beyond, Cullen Murphy finds the

'inquisitorial impulse'
alive, and only too well, in our world. His engaging romp through the secret Vatican archives shows that the distance between the Dark Ages and Modernity is shockingly short

-- Jane Mayer, author of 'The Dark Side
When virtue arms itself

- beware! Lucid, scholarly, elegantly told, God's Jury is as gripping as it is important -- James Carroll, author of 'Jerusalem, Jerusalem
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
There will never be a finer example of erudition, worn lightly and wittily, than this book. As he did in Are We Rome

?, Cullen Murphy manages to instruct, surprise, charm, and amuse in his history of ancient matters deftly connected to the present -- James Fallows, National Correspondent, 'The Atlantic Monthly
Entertaining, lively chronicle of the Inquisition, touching on a wide variety of issues across the centuries Kirkus Reviews Murphy is a beguiling writer with a good eye for detail

-- Noel Malcolm Daily Telegraph [Praise for 'Are We Rome?'] Erudite...thought-provoking...provocative and lively -- Walter Isaacson New York Times [Praise for 'Are We Rome?']

About the Author

Cullen Murphy is Vanity Fair's editor at large and the author of Are We Rome? and The Word According to Eve. He was previously managing editor of The Atlantic Monthly.

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Book Info

Publication date

2nd February 2012


Cullen Murphy

More books by Cullen Murphy
Author 'Like for Like'


Allen Lane an imprint of Penguin Books Ltd


320 pages


General & world history



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