This book, a new edition from the much earlier original, is a set text for my Reader (Lay Ministry) training. As a former student of and enthusiast for history, I was in two minds about it. It is rather heavy in tone and in places sounds a bit like the reading I did in my students days several decades back. Yet there are some good insights, some revision of previous views and it must be said, no pulling of punches with regard to the evils that have accompanied the Church's development. Overall it repays reading certainly and is probably one of the best general introductions on the market but due to its, to me, rather ponderous style, it is a book to read in short sessions .