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God's Jury: The Inquisition and the Making of the Modern World | [Cullen Murphy]

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

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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 20th 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.

©2012 Cullen Murphy (P)2012 Tantor

What the Critics Say

"When virtue arms itself - beware! Lucid, scholarly, elegantly told, God's Jury is as gripping as it is important." (James Carroll)

What Members Say

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  •  
    Warwriter 1939 Central Falls, RI 05-05-12
    Warwriter 1939 Central Falls, RI 05-05-12 Member Since 2010

    Life's too short to read bad books.

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    "Disappointing"
    Any additional comments?

    No more books with "modern world" in its title. I was hoping for a history of the Inquisitions, but I got to here more about Guantanamo than I really wanted.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sean BELVEDERE TIBURON, CA, United States 05-15-12
    Sean BELVEDERE TIBURON, CA, United States 05-15-12 Member Since 2009
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    "A balanced review based on new material"

    I really enjoyed the book but I wish he spent more time on the Church and the Inquisition(s) themselves. Although the premise concerns how the Inquisition shaped the modern world, there is not much new in the last quarter of the book.

    It begins by explaining that there were actually 3 major Inquisitions, the Medieval, Spanish and Roman, each with its own personality. He then delves into the historical context and actual transcripts from the trials. The latter have only recently been made available by the Vatican which makes this an early work of an entirely new genre of historically researched scholarship in this area.

    He takes care to point out that the reality is less sensational than the myth. He is also eager to present a view of the Inquisition that is not driven by any particular agenda, and here he succeeds. He is neither a Church apologist nor a torch bearing towns-person.

    Unfortunately, the last quarter of the book provides a lengthy discussion of Nazi Germany, McCarthyism and Guantanamo Bay and tries to paint them as latter day Inquisitions. I did not find the comparison particularly insightful (Can't nearly any act of official oppression be likened to the Inquisitions?) and the book lost momentum for me in the end.

    The performance was very good--thoughtful, well paced and clear.

    I would recommend it to someone interested in the Inquisitions, but lower your expectations for the "making of the modern world" aspect.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lynn 07-02-12
    Lynn 07-02-12
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    "The Inquisition? It Isn't Over"

    Begun in 1231, The Inquisition left a dark stain on the Catholic Church which remains to date. Now Cullen Murphy in ‘God’s Jury: The Inquisition and the Making of the Modern World’ places the era into historical context. Murphy first shows that The Inquisition was not the first in history to afflict humanity and definitely shows it was not the last. Inquisitions have continued to plague the populace ever since. Murphy shows how and why this has become the case. The Inquisition, he argues, set the tone, provided the model, and set processes in place to insure people would continue to be plagued by similar inquiries to the present. He deftly shows how The Inquisition influences our daily living in the modern world. That is the strength of the book. Readers interested in a history of The Inquisition alone might be disappointed. The focus is on The Inquisition and its influence upon subsequent bureaucratic monitoring of people and their daily lives and thought. Readers who approach the book with that in mind will find it very thought provoking. Particularly interesting to me was Murphy’s description how the Vatican is releasing Inquisition files and allowing access to researchers and others interested. In the last chapters, Murphy yields to speculation which was troubling though he might be proven right. For example, Murphy complains about how the Texas school officials influence K-12 book content and worries about where thinking might be among the population in 60 years. I don’t disagree with Murphy, but it really was not necessary and didn’t seem to add to the analysis he provided elsewhere. Over all, this is a troubling book and everyone interested in public policy, freedom, and privacy needs to open it and spend some time within its covers. The reading of Robertson Dean is excellent.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John H. Kuhl St. Louis, MO USA 10-29-12
    John H. Kuhl St. Louis, MO USA 10-29-12

    The Cool Man

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    "More an arrogant account of Cullen Murphy's travel"
    What would have made God's Jury better?

    God's Jury: The Inquisition and the Making of the Modern World
    Is more a pompous and arrogant account of Cullen Murphy travels while dropping names of people he has meet than an account of the Inquisition. Cullen Murphy also constantly interjects his liberal views against the Roman Catholic Church and Republican policies. I wanted to learn about the Inquisition and I admittedly did learn a small bit of information. I was taught more about Mr. Murphy’s bitter views toward the Catholic Church than the Inquisition.


    Has God's Jury turned you off from other books in this genre?

    The above titled book is a waste of time and money.


    What aspect of Robertson Dean’s performance would you have changed?

    Well read.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from God's Jury?

    Everything not pertaining to the inquisition in a historic aspect.


    Any additional comments?

    I do not think I will give "Cullen Murphy" another chance as an author.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Tampa, FL 03-21-13
    David Tampa, FL 03-21-13 Member Since 2006

    Love listening to books.

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    "Interesting but repetitive"

    Interesting read that covers the broad history of the many different inquisitions and how they helped shaped the modern Western world. While it does provide some details, I felt that it was skimming over many topics. The author repeats many of the same points throughout the book, but using the same basic evidence to his points. It left me thinking the book could have been half the size.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Edna M. Boardman Bismarck, ND 02-26-13
    Edna M. Boardman Bismarck, ND 02-26-13 Member Since 2011

    I'm a retired librarian with a strong interest in religion, Russian history and biography, and the two world wars. Have been known to take a side trip to mysteries with a political angle.

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    "Tthe Inquisitorial Spirit Continues"

    I just read “God's Jury: The Inquisition and the Making of the Modern World” by Cullen Murphy, via audiobook. The inquisition was started in the 1200s to clean up dissent. In writing this book, Murphy poked about in musty archives, exploring centuries-old, detailed accounts of interrogations and penalties, including burning at the stake. Inquisitors kept excellent records, as did the nazis and the communists, years later, when they destroyed people for who they were and what they believed. The author was intrigued by the inquisitors' handbook, which is still being consulted. A manifestation of the inquisitorial spirit continues in surveillance of all types. The book stops before the Vatican set out to discipline a group of US nuns who were so bold as to suggest women could be priests, but this is a good example of the ongoing impulse. Good reading, tho it requires a strong stomach at times. Professional narrative style.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
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