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on 3 October 2013
Since the days of Monty Python it has perhaps been difficult for British readers to be objective about the Spanish Inquisition and I hoped this book might fill the gap. My own research interest at the time of purchase was in the area of religious reform in sixteenth century Spain and clearly the Inquisition still casts a long shadow over this area. I think that Pérez aim in this study was to try to provide that more objective overview, but if he would have us believe that things weren't as bad as made out, some of his statistics and anecdotes would regrettably only confirm our worst prejudice! He does show how religious orthodoxy was mixed up with enforcing the political interests of the emerging Spanish state. I think that his point might have been better made by some sort of comparison with other emerging nation states in the early modern period and how religious compliance generally became mixed up with political interests: in both Catholic and Protestant countries this is usually an unattractive tale.

In recent years historians such as Eamon Duffy have invited us to go behind the somewhat un-nuanced popular presentation of the reception of Protestant reform in Tudor England, but I fear that if we are looking for similar scholarship to challenge us on the Inquisition this is not yet it.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on 12 October 2008
This book seeks to get behind the legendary Spanish Inquisition myths and to my mind does a fantastic job. There is very little concerning the actual torture and death relating to the Inquisition that so often is all that you are told. Instead, you are taken on a journey through nearly 400 years of religious and political drama in a country desperately trying to find its own identity via a purging of all persons within its society that did not fit the pure Catholic role model.
We are reminded of similar actions taken by nations both before and after these events and it is incredible to see the same errors unfolding in exactly the same way.
This is certainly a most informative book and one that is sure to please anybody out there wishing to know how & why the legend of the Spanish Inquisition came to be.
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 15 July 2010
Dreadful, inaccurate, sensationalist and poorly written. If you don't believe me, read the synopsis on the Amazon page before you buy. It is obvious - to anyone who knows their history - just from this synopsis that this book is flawed and full of bias. Firstly it states religion rather than Catholicism, which sets you up for one of the most foolish efforts in this book to link the Spanish Inquisition to all religion, as so often today our culture sees religion as one great entity rather than vastly differing belief systems. This author is more than happy to feebly assert this same misunderstanding. It falls into the trap of sensationalising and mocking Catholicism - Dan Brown style - a throwback to post Henry VIII English intolerance. Secondly the figures are massively inflated and although I would agree there are more victims than can actually be proved, how you can go from a few thousand to tens of thousands is beyond me. Unfortunately the Inquisition was not the most terrifying thing in Europe and this is only the legacy of sensationalists - like this author - who keep this Da Vinci code history alive. I am not a Catholic, but as I research history, I find books like this a hindrance rather than a help. If your looking for some of the more subtle facts surrounding this Inquisition - a tool of state control of which there are many comparisons throughout history and today - this is not the book. However, if you are looking for bizarre, bias and overinflated religious bashing, then I guess this is the book for you. Massively disappointed, I had hoped I might have found a genuine look at some of the realities of the Inquisition in something other than journal form.
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on 31 January 2014
Clearly written and easily read. Full of fascinating facts and insight into the nonsense of religious dogma. A very good read
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 26 January 2013
This is one of the most studied and documented institutions of European history. There is no excuse for myths and falsehoods and exaggerations to be presented as facts. I recommend Henry Kamen's The Spanish Inquisition for a balanced and fair view of the Inquisition.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 25 February 2013
As a novice when it comes to The Spanish inquisition, was looking for something inspiring and educational. The title: "The Spanish Inquisition - a History" was the main reason for buying the book as well as some of the reviews. Unfortunately I got drowned in names, titles and years form the beginning and lost all enthusiasm to continue with the book. True I didn't finish the book and I'm sure I never will. Still looking for a good book on the subject.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 27 August 2013
i thought this book answered all my questions on a subject that is clouded in mystery,was highly delighted,would recommend it.
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