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God's Jury: The Inquisition and the Making of the Modern World

3.71  ·  Rating Details  ·  525 Ratings  ·  107 Reviews
"The Inquisition is a dark mark in the history of the Catholic Church. But it was not the first inquisition nor the last, as Cullen Murphy shows in this far-ranging, informed, and (dare one say?) witty account of its reach down to our own time, in worldly affairs more than ecclesiastical ones." -- Margaret O'Brien Steinfels, former editor, "Commonweal"
The Inquisition cond
ebook, 352 pages
Published January 17th 2012 by Mariner Books
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(showing 1-30 of 1,371)
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Bill  Kerwin

Murray's book is a brief, impressionistic survey of the various Inquisitions pursued by the Catholic Church: the Medieval (mid-13th century to roughly the mid-14th)), the Spanish (late 15th Century to mid-19th), and the Roman (mid-sixteenth century to the present). The Medieval was waged against the Cathari of Southern France, the Spanish against heretical “conversos” (former Muslims and Jews), and the Roman against the explosion of suspicious print material in the post-Gutenberg age. In additio
Dec 07, 2014 Dj rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I went into the book expecting to read about the Spanish Inquisition. Like most people I don't know a great deal about the actual Inquisition, but I do have a great many references from popular sources. This book isn't about the Spanish Inquisition though, or more to the point it is about so much more. It covers all three of the Church's Inquisitions as well as a number of later events that are more secular in nature but no less Inquisitions.
The three Inquisitions of the Church are the 1st agai
Webster Bull
Jan 31, 2012 Webster Bull rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: faith
I don’t know about you, but I want to understand the Inquisition. I’m only four years a convert, and still in love with the Catholic Church, so I want to understand why anyone would not love it. It’s like falling in love with a girl at school and then hearing things about her in the locker room. You want to get to the bottom of things.

By my count, the Church has received four big black marks from non-Catholic historians and kibitzers. I understand two of them: the Crusades (no issue) and the pri
Jan 22, 2012 Whitley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an exceptional and important vision of the Inquisition that illustrates the relationship between the justifications being offered for torture in the modern United States. What is so appalling, is that the Spanish Inquisition, after its initial fury under Tomas Torquemada, became significantly more moderate than, for example, the process of extreme rendition as it has been practiced in our time. It is startling to see the examples he offers of the parallels between Inquisitorial interroga ...more
Apr 18, 2012 Sheri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"No one expects the Spanish Inquisition." At least so says Monty Python. And who knew that the Spanish inquisition was one of many inquisitions? In this fascinating history, Cullen Murphy tells us not only about the inquisition in Spain, and many others that are less well known -- certainly not well known enough to be the subject of Monty Python jokes about the "comfy couch" torture anyway. Murphy doesn't stop with history though, and brings the reader up to date. Right up to Guantanamo and the ...more
Dan Petegorsky
Meh. For me this one should have been either a lot more or a lot less. I’d expected a more illuminating account of what we now know about the Inquisitions, with lessons for today. But the actual historical sections are pretty cursory, while the contemporary parts are all too familiar for anyone who follows the news. It’s more or less a long essay on how the inquisitional impulse continues in the bureaucratized national security state, and how strongly religious and political intolerance continue ...more
Mar 04, 2013 Stewart rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Cullen Murphy’s 2012 book, “God’s Jury: The Inquisition and the Making of the Modern World” is not a dry academic tome on a phenomenon that happened centuries ago. It is a lively and well-written look at the Inquisition and how its intellectual rationale forms the basis for the mass repression and state-sponsored violence that plagued the 20th century and continues into this century.
“There were many inquisitions,” Murphy explains, dividing this intermittent 700-year religious persecution spons
Mar 14, 2012 Don rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting premise that is flawlessly documented. The information on the Inquisitions (there were several) alone is worth reading. The parallels to modern events are as chilling as Orwell's 1984. During an interview the author speculated if someone in the US during the 50's was told that in the near future torture would be sanctioned by law they would be appalled. Yet, thanks to the Bush administration, that's exactly what happened.

During an interview with NPR the author says, "There isn't
Jason Golomb
“God’s Jury” author Cullen Murphy spent a lot of time in archives while researching this book. He writes extensively on the mad amounts of Inquisition-related documentation that exists world wide, much of which is only recently being uncovered and researched. Some documents are surprisingly damning in their straightforward accounting of the mechanisms of its own atrocities.

What Cullen makes clear is that the Inquisitions (and they can be categorized into multiple phases) weren't just an effort
Jan 26, 2013 Philip rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Inquisition Fun Facts: There were really three Inquisitions: the Medieval Inquisition (1241), the Spanish Inquisition (late 15th C.), and the Roman Inquisition (16th C.)
The Medieval was set against the Cathars of France. Cathars were dualists who believed that a good God could not be responsible for the eveil in the world. So, Evil mush have been a separate creation. (Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code invokes the Cathars).
The Spanish was run almost entirely by the King and Queen of Spain (Fer. and Isabe
Mar 31, 2012 Miles rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
God's Jury is an interesting, if rather too thinly detailed, history of the Inquisition, combined with an extensive contextualization of Inquisitorial institutions in history, from the Church to England, Germany, the Soviet Union and right down to the present day US government and Guantanamo Bay. I enjoyed it for its historical presentation of the Inquisition, and for the historical contextualization. Murphy reminds us that there were really three Inquisitions, the Medieval, the Spanish and the ...more
Matheus Freitas
Um livro com boas informações, porém seu fio condutor foi tirando meu interesse gradativamente.
Resumidamente, é um livro de comparações entre as inquisições antigas (medieval, espanhola e romana) e “inquisições” modernas (pogrons russos, Holocausto, Guantánamo, etc.).
Decorre sobre pontos interessantes: sobre a legalização da tortura na Inquisição pelo Papa Inocente 4º, em 1252 — mas estava tudo tranquilo… inicialmente era algo organizado, bonito, com um acompanhamento médico, tudo dentro da lei
John McDonald
Apr 15, 2015 John McDonald rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Murphy is an editor at large of Vanity Fair, and his writing proves him a scholar of the first order. Although it is nowhere stated publicly, any reader with origins or roots in Catholicism, wonder whether he also is Jesuit-trained, parsing history and digging to deep intellectual depths as any good Jesuit does. One asks whether his burrowing into the most infamous and perhaps the longest lasting single campaign ever embarked upon is a quest to undertaken so that he might understand the reasons ...more
Aug 23, 2014 Stephania rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Admittedly, I was listening to the audio version as I have found myself taking several long car rides recently. This book has been on my list for a while because I'm a bit of a historical sucker for the Inquisition and it's not too often you find a popular history book about the Inquisition that isn't just a bit sensationalized or focused on methods of torture. Instead, Murphy focuses on the multiple methodologies of the Inquisition(s) and does a solid job of relating it's foundational bureaucra ...more
I couldn't finish it. It didn't seem to have any sort of organization, just meandering from topic to topic. There was plenty of scene-setting, describing in boring detail what a certain spot looks like today, where something important happened 800 years ago, while information about the Inquisition is put on the back burner (you know, that tedious New Yorker stuff), or a lengthy digression about some small point that two scholars disagree over, complete with a physical description of one of the s ...more
Apr 21, 2014 Philip rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well written and accessible. A touch too flippant in parts. Discussing Dolores Umbridge in the same context as Torquemada was probably ill-advised (my love of Harry Potter books notwithstanding).

What was most interesting to me was the idea that inquisitions are moral exercises rather than just wanton sadism...though the two are not mutually exclusive. Perpetrators, back in the day as well as in our own time, are so certain of their position that they will countenance the most tortuous twists of
Mar 30, 2016 Nick rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: uiowa
What I remember most from this is that the Inquisitors transcribed all their interrogations and torture sessions and would even make note of the physical reactions of their victims, like stage directions. Ex): "God, oh God! [screams] Please, please! God, God, God!" [writhes in agony]

The Vatican still has miles of shelving full of this stuff in its archives.
Sep 16, 2013 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent explanation of how the Inquisition's tactics and organization led to, and influenced, government intelligence techniques used (and taken for granted) today.

Explains how the inquisition was directly responsible for modern concepts such as bureaucracy, surveillance, and even archives!

Very fun read, though a bit paranoid in its final pages.
Aug 17, 2012 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
This book traces the history of the Inquisition, and shows how the methods of the Inquisition continue today in secular form. That is because the methods of the Inquisition are essentially the methods of a state bureaucracy. Very interesting read. The most salient point I take from it is to beware of moral certitude: moral certitude can justify anything.
Lynda Kraar
May 28, 2015 Lynda Kraar rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Cullen Murphy leads you by the hand and shows you around the Promised Land of the Inquisition. We are still in that era. I now better understand how the weirdness is not only tolerated but also allowed to be enforced with little or no push-back from the masses. Why didn't anyone try to put a stop to it in Europe? What would we have done? Something different, if we were around at the time? And who are "We?" As Murphy says, we were not around in the 15th century and have zero idea how people lived ...more
Jun 03, 2015 Kent rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a well written overview of the Inquisition. Being recently interested in religious history, this book offered an interesting introduction to the whole spectacle. While it's not a super long book, it is quite detailed about many different accounts and histories from the start of the inquisition to the modern day. The author also connects it with modern day inquisitional events that show that this dark time from our history really hasn't ended or even changed much for that matter. It has ...more
Taylor Smith
Feb 17, 2016 Taylor Smith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Very well written book, especially the narratives focusing on places (archives, barracks, palaces, and hilltops from London to Cuba, Santa Fe to Rome).

The one fault I would note is the author seems to have a bit of a blind spot on the left and makes it appear as though the Inquisitorial Impulse only occurs on the right in modern times. Granted, this was written well before Brendan Eich had his career destroyed by a modern inquisition, but nevertheless the lack of any humility being directly requ
Apr 18, 2016 Matthew rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I never got a feel for what the author was trying to do with this book. On the one hand he rails against apologists who try to downplay the church's role in the inquisition yet, in my opinion, he does the same thing by juxtaposing the medieval inquisitors with the Nazi's or the communist witch hunts of the 1950s in the USA. Ultimately, the book never quite became interesting. Additionally, the jumping back and forth through historical periods made it more difficult to follow. There is some very ...more
Mar 11, 2015 Cindy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I did not know the Inquisition was active in Arizona. Makes sense if you think about it - we had Spain, so we had the Spanish Inquisition. Never had thought about it before. Also did not know that Pope Benedict had been the "Grand Inquisitor" before he became pope - at least in effect; he headed the Congregation for Defense of the Faith, which was the third incarnation of the Inquisition, after the Congregation of the Holy Office. Very interesting book. Also talked about what kind of atmosphere ...more
Mar 20, 2016 Linda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is "low-impact" history, allowing the reader to get an overview of a subject without intensive study. The author, Cullen Murphy, makes the case that the Inquisition was not just about death, destruction, torture, and persecution, but that it was also about bureaucracy and censorship. The following passages summarize and illustrate the author's point:

From page 188: "A set of disciplinary procedures, targeting specified groups, codified in law, organized systematically, enforced by surveillan
Steve Anderson
Jan 22, 2014 Steve Anderson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
God’s Jury does what it sets out to do, and does it very well. Cullen Murphy explores not only the human instinct toward righteousness that leads to the suppression, even eradication of those with different points of view, but as well the attributes of organizations which enable inquisition to survive over time. He points out that the horrors of inquisition inflicted by one upon another, however terrible they may be, may not even be its greatest cost. The deliberate suppression of ideas during t ...more
Harley Gee
Jan 03, 2013 Harley Gee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion, history
I never thought of the Inquisition as anything but a glaring example of wrongheadedness of censorship from a distant time. But Murphy offers a lot more. As subtitle states, Murphy builds the case for the pervasive influence of the Inquisition in shaping not only religious doctrine but in the development the modern state, particularly as it relates to security in recent and current times.

He segments the historical stages of the Inquisition into first the creation of a formal organization for det
Beth G.
In our imaginations, we offhandedly associate the term "inquisition" with the term "Dark Ages." But consider what an inquisition - any inquisition - really is: a set of disciplinary procedures targeting specific groups, codified in law, organized systematically, enforced by surveillance, exemplified by severity, sustained over time, backed by institutional power, and justified by a vision of the one true path. considered that way, the Inquisition is more accurately viewed not as a relic but as ...more
Margaret Sankey
This is a wide-ranging tour of the cultural life of the Inquisition--Murphy interleaves experiences working in the Vatican archives of the Inquisition (opened fairly recently, and only very recently provided with a modern archivist to manage it's idiosyncratic filing system) with references to the Inquisition in modern political speech (how could Kenneth Starr NOT know what the Spanish Inquisition was?), Occitan Cathar-themed tourism, interviews with historians who have worked with the subject ( ...more
May 02, 2013 Chris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
God’s Jury is a fast paced, sometimes humorous and generally well-written romp through history examining the concept of the Inquisition. When I picked it up, I assumed it was just about the Inquisition. While it certainly covers this, it moves beyond it and touches on related issues like censorship and surveillance as well. Cullen Murphy ignores chronology and thematic organization in favor of exploring connected ideas in very rapid succession. You find yourself hopscotching through centuries an ...more
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John Cullen Murphy, Jr. (born September 1, 1952) is an American writer and editor probably best known for his work at The Atlantic, where he served as managing editor (1985–2002) and editor (2002-2006).

He was born in New Rochelle, New York, and grew up in Greenwich, Connecticut. He was educated at Amherst College, from which he graduated with honors in medieval history in 1974. Murphy's first maga
More about Cullen Murphy...

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“The important question to ask is why these bodies are allowed to exist. If a country such as Spain allowed a repressive body like the Inquisition to exist for four hundred years, it is not because the Inquisition forced itself on the Spanish nation. It is because the Spaniards allowed it to exist.” 0 likes
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