When American political scientist Francis Fukuyama published The End of History and the Last Man in 1992, Western liberal democracies seemed to have won the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. Fukuyama believed liberal democracy had triumphed for a reason. Any political system containing "fundamental contradictions," he thought, would eventually be replaced by something else. For Fukuyama, communism was such a system.
Religion and the Decline of Magic examines popular belief in 16th and 17th century England, a key period during which leaders of the Protestant Reformation tried to disentangle magic from religion itself. Thomas argues that magic was popular because it offered practical solutions to everyday problems. Few social historians had examined the popular religious beliefs of the 1500s at the time Thomas wrote Religion.