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Reformations

The Early Modern World, 1450-1650
Narrated by: David Drummond
Length: 39 hrs and 42 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (54 ratings)

Regular price: $39.95

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Publisher's Summary

This fast-paced survey of Western civilization's transition from the Middle Ages to modernity brings that tumultuous period vividly to life.

Carlos Eire, popular professor and gifted writer, chronicles the 200-year era of the Renaissance and Reformation with particular attention to issues that persist as concerns in the present day. Eire connects the Protestant and Catholic Reformations in new and profound ways, and he demonstrates convincingly that this crucial turning point in history not only affected people long gone but continues to shape our world and define who we are today.

The book focuses on the vast changes that took place in Western civilization between 1450 and 1650, from Gutenberg's printing press and the subsequent revolution in the spread of ideas to the close of the Thirty Years' War. Eire devotes equal attention to the various Protestant traditions and churches as well as to Catholicism, skepticism, and secularism, and he takes into account the expansion of European culture and religion into other lands, particularly the Americas and Asia. He also underscores how changes in religion transformed the Western secular world.

©2016 Yale University (P)2018 Tantor

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Surprisingly Compelling Historical Survey

Structured as a historical survey that could (and should) be the foundational text in a college course on the Reformations, Eire's book is remarkably engaging. There are narrative flourishes that make his writing work in an audiobook format and he does much more than simply recount events. Eire manages to reflect on shifting religious thought from 1450 to 1650 and make important connections to today without falling victim to reading past events solely through the prism of twenty-first century sensibilities. The book is impressive in that it serves as a great introduction while also posing enough provocative questions and offering enough unique analysis to stimulate a reader well versed in the history. Highly recommended.

The reader is has a good tone and pace, although like everyone he has some idiosyncratic pronunciations (elite sounds like A-leet, for example). In a way his unapologetically American pronunciations of Latin, German, French, Italian and Spanish added clarity compared to other narrators who have varied proficiencies yet try to pass themselves off as polyglots.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Catholics don’t believe in “Works Righteousness”

This might seem like nit-picking, but really, it’s central to the entire narrative of the Reformations. In no uncertain terms Carlos M.N. Eire states at least twice that the Catholic Church teaches people can earn salvation with works-righteousness. No. That is not the Catholic doctrine.

The role of “good works,” thought of as an act of God’s grace with the cooperation of the human will, is more nuanced that Eire suggests, but ultimately, the Catholic Church rejects the idea that people can earn heaven with works. This is not a secret, the Very First declaration on the subject of justification from the Council of Trent (1547) says: “Canon 1: If anyone saith, that man may be justified before God by his own works, whether done through the teaching of human nature, or that of the law, without the grace of God through Jesus Christ: Let Him Be Anathema.” (literally just google “Trent Justification”)

So, Eire’s statement uses and approves of the Protestant mischaracterization of Catholic justification, and therefore falls into the trap of the confessional-minded historians which he so earnestly tries to distance himself from in the book’s opening. This massive oversight ruined his otherwise fascinating and engaging book for me. I learned a lot listening to this book, but, I kept thinking, if Eire has made such a blatantly biased mistake on something so crucial to the narrative of reformations, how can I trust anything else he writes?

No matter how much time he fairly dedicated to Catholic narratives, this oversight exposes his Protestant bias (even if subconsciously, he himself may not be Protestant). Imagine if he had said, that Luther’s doctrine of “Faith Alone” meant that “At the end of the day, all Protestants believed that faithful people could and should sin in any degree without consequence, because ‘Sole Fide’ taught that works meant absolutely nothing for justification.” Any Protestant, or really any critical reader, would see through that statement as a mischaracterization of the Protestant belief. So too with his statement that Catholics affirm “Works-Righteousness.” They do not.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Interesting topic, bad narration

I like the writing a lot, it’s very clear and describes a lot of interesting historic characters and events in various levels of detail, giving what feels like a solid sense of the age.

The narrator is constantly monotone and almost whispery. At least he’s clear and not doing an obnoxious accent, but it makes it hard to listen for any length of time.

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Powerful and Thought Provoking

It is obvious to me that Mr. Eire vested many hours in researching and compiling this volume. I am personally very grateful for his efforts; there was much during the reformation period I did not know, but now my understanding is greatly improved!

Also, David Drummond did an outstanding job reading the text!

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Superb....an absolute must read.

Informative, challenging, provocative, can't-put-down...Leaves the mind re-examining what notions we may have had before......the rest is silence!!!

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  • MARioux
  • FOREST GROVE, OR
  • 11-04-18

Masterful historical survey!

Outstanding job in brings out the historical facts about God's Word and its practices. It brings you the people who put their lives on the line to correct the Word of God to what we have today. Thank you, Carlos.

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What a story!

Absorbing. Fair to both Protestants & Catholics. I learned an enormous amount of historical information. If the reader pronounced a good number of words more correctly this listening experience would be perfect. it makes me wonder why the reader's don't check in advance how to pronounce these words. It's not a fatal flaw. I've listened to this twice now so it must not be too bad. I must underline just how thoroughly absorbing the author makes the subject matter. Great writer. leaves no stone unturned.

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  • Magyar
  • The Universe
  • 09-07-18

Fascinating

This is a fascinating book that brings together a lot of research and perspectives on the period 1450-1650. A times some of the sections are something of a "Pump and dump" meaning that because there was research on a topic it had to be included.I wanted to know more about Scandinavia. But still I found it a very insight book.

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  • Alex
  • 07-21-18

Phenomenal work

I have hundreds of audiobooks in my Audible library, and I must say that this is one of the best works, if not the single best one, that I ever purchased. This work is expressly aimed at a popular audience that wants to learn more about the Reformation. its aim is modest: to familiarize people with the Reformation era. However, it offers a thorough understanding of this period.

The book is divided into four parts: first it sketches the groundwork for the Reformation. Then it focuses on Protestants and Catholics respectively. Finally, it talks about the consequences of the Reformation. It avoids any bias or presentism. Sometimes it gets relatively minor facts wrong. For example, the war between the Dutch Republic and Spain resumed in 1621, not 1619. It also suggests that the Spanish Inquisition had "millions" of eyes and ears, which comes dangerously close to the old notion that it had large networks of spies, simply because it relied on the population at large.

Any small issues pale in comparison with the great achievement that is this book. This is a 'must read', or should I say 'must listen', for any individual who seeks to have a basic understanding of the Reformation, though it offers much more than that.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful