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The Surprising History and Legacy of the Inquisition

The renowned historian and critic Jonathan Kirsch presents a sweeping history of the Inquisition and the ways in which it has served as the chief model for torture in the West to this day. Ranging from the Knights Templar to the first Protestants; from Joan of Arc to Galileo; from the Inquisition's immense power in Spain after 1492, when the secret tribunals and torture chambers were directed for the first time against Jews and Muslims, to the torture and murder of hundreds of thousands of innocent women during the Witch Craze; and to the modern war on terror—Kirsch shows us how the Inquisition stands as a universal and ineradicable reminder of how absolute power wreaks inevitable corruption.

Published: HarperCollins on Oct 6, 2009
ISBN: 9780061982569
List price: $11.14
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The Inquisition of the Middle Ages, the Spanish Inquisition and the Roman Inquisition provided for centuries of terror, torture and well documented strategies in annihilating mostly innocent people for heresy. While the original objective of the Inquisition was the Roman Catholic Church's fear of losing control over the thoughts and beliefs of Christians, the inquisitors, the Church and later, the kings of Spain and France, turned it into a strategy in profiteering and later, genocide. Cloaking themselves with a language that played down what they were actually doing to the victims, the Inquisition laid the path for modern inquisitions such as the Nazi regime, the Soviet Gulag, the witch trials, the Japanese American internment, the McCarthy anti-Communist hunt and the American military proceedings in Abu Ghraib.It's horrifyingly interesting to read how the Inquisition made heretics wear large fabric crosses on their garments to humiliate them, even if they had been released from trial, and that this practice was used by Hitler with the Jews in WWII. The practice of getting neighbors, friends, and relatives to spy on and denounce each other, and the purpose of a trial to get victims to name others were used also by the Nazis and McCarthy's committee. Even the Inquisition's practice of spreading imagined depravities against the targeted victims continues to be used today to build disgust and fear against them.Even the tools of the Inquisition have not been destroyed or left to gather dust in some dark museum. Some of them have been used through the centuries and some, such as the water torture, now renamed waterboarding, and the humiliating dunces cap, are being used today. It was appalling to see how easily it's been to press the panic button in people, and once pressed, how very quickly it can be to spread fear, distrust and the belief that inhumane treatment of those we fear is acceptable, because they are now seen as being less than human. Once the panic button is pressed, how ready are we to relinquish common sense, embrace the flimsiest of excuses to legalize the torture and incarceration of our imagined enemies. Covering some very distasteful details of mainly the Inquisitions' strategies and practices, this is, however, a really good documentation of man's need to control that which he fears. It certainly made me realize that not only does history repeat itself, but that there are some who will actually try to justify evil actions.read more
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The Inquisition of the Middle Ages, the Spanish Inquisition and the Roman Inquisition provided for centuries of terror, torture and well documented strategies in annihilating mostly innocent people for heresy. While the original objective of the Inquisition was the Roman Catholic Church's fear of losing control over the thoughts and beliefs of Christians, the inquisitors, the Church and later, the kings of Spain and France, turned it into a strategy in profiteering and later, genocide. Cloaking themselves with a language that played down what they were actually doing to the victims, the Inquisition laid the path for modern inquisitions such as the Nazi regime, the Soviet Gulag, the witch trials, the Japanese American internment, the McCarthy anti-Communist hunt and the American military proceedings in Abu Ghraib.It's horrifyingly interesting to read how the Inquisition made heretics wear large fabric crosses on their garments to humiliate them, even if they had been released from trial, and that this practice was used by Hitler with the Jews in WWII. The practice of getting neighbors, friends, and relatives to spy on and denounce each other, and the purpose of a trial to get victims to name others were used also by the Nazis and McCarthy's committee. Even the Inquisition's practice of spreading imagined depravities against the targeted victims continues to be used today to build disgust and fear against them.Even the tools of the Inquisition have not been destroyed or left to gather dust in some dark museum. Some of them have been used through the centuries and some, such as the water torture, now renamed waterboarding, and the humiliating dunces cap, are being used today. It was appalling to see how easily it's been to press the panic button in people, and once pressed, how very quickly it can be to spread fear, distrust and the belief that inhumane treatment of those we fear is acceptable, because they are now seen as being less than human. Once the panic button is pressed, how ready are we to relinquish common sense, embrace the flimsiest of excuses to legalize the torture and incarceration of our imagined enemies. Covering some very distasteful details of mainly the Inquisitions' strategies and practices, this is, however, a really good documentation of man's need to control that which he fears. It certainly made me realize that not only does history repeat itself, but that there are some who will actually try to justify evil actions.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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