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Out of the Flames: The Remarkable Story of a Fearless Scholar, a Fatal Heresy, and One of the Rarest Books in the World
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Out of the Flames: The Remarkable Story of a Fearless Scholar, a Fatal Heresy, and One of the Rarest Books in the World

4.1  ·  Rating Details ·  570 Ratings  ·  103 Reviews

Michael Servetus is one of those hidden figureheads of history who is remembered not for his name, but for the revolutionary deeds that stand in his place. Both a scientist and a freethinking theologian, Servetus is credited with the discovery of pulmonary circulation in the human body as well as the authorship of a polemical masterpiece that cost him his life. The Chrisit

ebook, 368 pages
Published December 10th 2008 by Broadway Books (first published 2002)
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Jan 03, 2009 Eric_W rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
- Just realized I forgot to rate this.

I love everything I've read by the Goldstones and this is starting out as no exception. They begin with a fascinating account of Gutenberg's invention (his patron Johann Fust attempted to take all the credit for it) of movable type. He did more than just that though, inventing the ink and a new press, as well. I was struck by the fact that he presented some of his first printed books at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 1640. I had the good fortune to atten
Nov 20, 2007 Lexi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Michael, Laurie, Tomiko, Monica, Saad
Recommended to Lexi by: Mom
Seriously--I cannot recommend this book highly enough, it is FACINATING and keeps your attention--not boring at ALL (believe me, I know from bording)!

This is a well-researched but dramatic and interesting telling of the life and death of Michael Servetus--and the 450 year history of his written works. The authors do an amazing job of putting his story (and his heretical ideas) in the context of religious ideological wars, the scientific and social revolutions in Europe caused by books, and the h
Sep 17, 2007 Jonathan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
n 2002, I read a review in Salon of "Out of the Flames: The Remarkable Story of a Fearless Scholar, a Fatal Heresy, and One of the Rarest Books in the World", and I was determined to read it as soon as I could. Well, there are a lot of good books out there, so I didn't get around to picking up a copy until this spring, and I finally read it this summer.

It was well worth the wait. "Out of the Flames" is a page-turner that tells the story of Michael Servetus, a 16th-century Spanish physician and t
Dec 10, 2009 Kate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone!
"History is an Ocean that books help us navigate. It is the permenence of the printed word that has allowed ideas to travel from place to place, from age to age. It is easy to dismiss the sixteenth century as the distant past, but Servetus, Calvin, Luther, Erasmus, Charles, Francis and the rest were dealing with the forces of an emerging technology much as we are today."

Out of the Flames is certainly a fascinating tale of one man, Michel Servetus, a Spanish Physician, whose theories about philo
Jan 27, 2012 Diane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, nonfiction
I read this for a class, but it's an excellent work of nonfiction. It follows a scholar who was burned at the stake in the 1500s for his heretical writings, the invention of the Gutenberg printing press, the start of the Reformation and some of the greatest minds in the last 500 years. I enjoyed the writing so much that I plan to read several more books by this husband-and-wife writing team. "Out of the Flames" is a good companion to William Manchester's "A World Lit Only by Fire," which is also ...more
"In a tragic age, [Michael] Servetus played an unusually tragic part, and the pathos of his fate appeals strongly to us ... he remained faithful unto death to what he believed was The Truth."
- William Osler, 1909

Michael Servetus, born Miguel Serveto, was the kind of man -- or better, the kind of human -- that none of us will truly ever be. Most of us will never reach the level of learning or the sheer mastery of scholarship he attained. Most of us, thankfully, will never face the trials he did,
Brandee Price
May 02, 2012 Brandee Price rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So I read another rather interesting book lately...another that I would have never chosen on my own but it was recommended by a co-worker and he hasn't steered me wrong yet. =) It was non-fiction - basically about a book that was almost lost to us forever. But it was about SOOOO much more. It takes place during the reformation and I have to tell you that it's made me want to do so much more reading on this period of time. I mean, I knew about Pope Leo and I knew about the Medici family but I had ...more
Derelict  Buddha
Dec 23, 2012 Derelict Buddha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What is it to think for yourself in the face of violent opposition? Well researched and well written...!!! This delectable and wicked historical narrative places the reader firmly into the late Medieval period and the Reformation, a time when the most subversive thing you could do was to read the Bible and interpret it for yourself, when only the clergy or self-appointed prophets were allowed to do so.

What does it mean to think for yourself? Do we have freedom of conscience? In what are our cho
Quite the fascinating perspective on life -- and death -- in the time of the early availability of printing, John Calvin, and the Inquisition. On one hand, the author does a superb job painting a picture of the forces at work at the time as well as key individuals and institutions. On the other hand, the story is of suppression of free thought in the most brutal manner possible, which certainly colored my reaction.

Nevertheless, a worthwhile book to peruse for anyone interested in the forces tha
Clark Hays
May 25, 2013 Clark Hays rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"History is a sea that books help us navigate”

That was a great “sticker” of a line from Out of the Flames: The Remarkable Story of a Fearless Scholar, a Fatal Heresy, and One of the Rarest Books in the World (I also particularly liked their use of “outmonked”), but after reading the book, I am tempted to add that books are also the rivers from which the sea of history emanates.

I say that because so much of this particular story hangs on the way knowledge is disseminated through, and built upon,
Apr 02, 2013 JOSEPH OLIVER rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion
I found this book particularly interesting. I knew nothing about Servetus before reading it but feel I have had a very good, wide-ranging introduction to the man. The book title may be a little misleading in some respects though because it actually doesn't deal in any great depth with the contents of the book itself. It covers when and why it was written and the circumstances of the time but it barely covers the contents so you would not be any the wiser on Servetus' academic views on the Trinit ...more
Oct 10, 2015 Tanya rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is my favorite kind of book: an easy read, a slice of history, the story of a person I don't know well, and an intriguing search for possibly the rarest book in the world.

The story of Servetus is probably one I should know but I didn't. More importantly, I knew bits and pieces of John Calvin's life and many of the other players of this story but this book traces a different side I don't often get to read about.

In the end, the tragic tale of Servetus serves as a warning to all who would th
Jun 26, 2015 Kaylin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
IM DONE! HAHAHAHAHA (that is a laugh directed at AP Euro teachers)
that took forever.
In all honesty, though, this book wasn't bad. It was actually really interesting. I have never heard about this Servetus guy before but now that I have I'm interested. He went through all these trials and he never let go of his beliefs. That's brave. Also, his whole tragic life was almost lost to history. This whole book is a testament to the importance of books, which is cool when you think about it. In additi
Denise Louise
Jul 14, 2014 Denise Louise rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent book about Michael Servetus, who was burned as a heretic, at the hands of John Calvin of all people, and then traces the paths of the last three remaining copies of the book that led to his condemnation. It's really a Who's Who of 400 years of history just before, during and after the Reformation and Enlightenment eras. The influence of Servetus is even traced to the U.S., thru Unitarianism, which is rooted in Servetus' book and promotes radical ideas against the concept of the Trin ...more
Jan 06, 2008 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really, really, really liked this book. It's about Michael Servetus, the who founded the movement that would become the Unitarians. Basically, he wrote a book, which Calvin found heretical, he was burned for it, his books were burned for it, but Calvin kept his copy, and that is one of the something like four copies that exist today. The book spoke out about the non-biblical origin of the trinity, that it was wrong to baptize babies and other things that didn't jive with the established dogma ...more
This is a fascinating book about an obscure but significant person whose story was snuffed out by the power of censorship. I loved the way the authors researched an extremely rare book and traced the ideas of the author into publication and eventual destruction. I particularly love their description of the new invention of the printed word, and the disruption this invention caused in the society of the time.
Rebekah Ray
Jul 20, 2014 Rebekah Ray rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those books that make you feel like you are getting the BIG picture. It pulls so many things together: the history of printing and the book,the march of religious orthodoxy and its critics, medicine, geography, wars and rumors of wars throughout the centuries in Europe... I could not put it down. It kept me up way past any reasonable bedtime, and then kept me awake thinking about it.
Apr 08, 2013 Charlie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If the editors synopsis doesn't interest you then move on, not for you.

Otherwise, pivotal information regarding how we got to the world we live in today (Gutenberg, European culture wars, rise of university scholarship) and the ultimate incompetence of evil.

The real lesson in this work, if you search for truth, you can find it.

Apr 10, 2009 Heather rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book so much I'm ready to start reading it again on Monday. It packs a incredible, sweeping history into a single volume, providing an engaging story and a wonderful sense of the personalities involved in almost 500 years of antitrinitarian thought, conversation, debate, and commitment. Inspiring!
Oct 09, 2009 Jen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was fascinating, I had so much fun reading it. I really learned quite a bit, and I appreciate this part of history more now than I ever did. I would love to see the actual manuscript this book was written about, there are only 3 left now. Next goal: find where they are and hope one is in London.
Nov 22, 2011 Bill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is well written and very readable taking the reader down the less trodden paths of history, namely, the obscurer parts of the reformation, book collecting and a short history of the unitarian movement. Read this if you want something a little different.
Sep 01, 2009 Pancha rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, history
This book focused on a lot more than Servetus. It included the rise of the printing press, the lives of the scholars around him, the religious upheaval of the day. It was very encompassing, but at times I found the central story got lost. Servetus didn't seem to be the focus for much of the book.
Mar 23, 2010 Teresa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The story of Michael Servetus, the Spanish priest who rejected the idea of a Trinity and perished because of it. Fascinating read.
Mar 18, 2010 Melanie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The story of Michael Servetus really is remarkable and these authors told it very well. I hadn't even known that this man existed, yet his story is absolutely absorbing.
William Blair
Jan 01, 2010 William Blair rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely wonderful book from the Goldstone husband-and-wife team. Review coming later.
Feb 28, 2017 Julie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely loved this book. The history of printing, unitarianism vs. trinitarianism, the evolution of medicine, plus personal and religious dramas, scandals, and intrigue, written in a highly engaging style, make for a very entertaining and satisfying read. At the heart of the story is Michael Servetus, a 16th-century Spanish theologian, who is brutally murdered (burned at the stake) at the hands of John Calvin for his heretical views and writings at only 42 years old. Servetus also trained a ...more
Ghost of the Library
this is the story of a man and a book, this is the story of how far a man is willing to go for his beliefs, this is the story of european thinking, religion, one of its most convoluted periods.
having read previous works by nancy goldstone i was intrigued and much eager to begin this one when i found it at my local library.
what a gem of a book this is! written by two clear lovers of books and history it brilliantly tells the tale of one michael servetus, spanish by birth, whos
Mar 12, 2015 Tricia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
This was an interesting, incredibly informative book. I found the subject matter and the history fascinating. It is in DESPERATE need of an editor, however. The book is WAYYYYYYY too long. The main focus of the book is a particular historical figure (Michael Servetus) and his banned book. But in giving us the story behind this person and his most famous writings, we also get the entire history of the printed word, the entire history of religion and the split between Catholics and Protestants, we ...more
Jul 23, 2016 Madeline rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Last year in Honors World History, I learned that William Harvey discovered pulmonary circulation.
In that class, I also got the strong notion that John Calvin, despite being strict, was a "cool dude". I mean, the textbook said he totally invented a whole new religious sect! How flippin' amazing is that???

I never once heard of the name Servetus.

Of course, that class was certainly enjoyable, and I'm not trying to invalidate that.
However, knowing that there are plenty of people in history like S
Dec 05, 2016 SearchofKings rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A riveting and remarkable book that should be found in everyones personal library. Without going into too much detail, imagine with me a scholar that pushed the boundaries of conventional knowledge for his day. Imagine, contemporary with the ruthless John Calvin, a man who was unafraid to contradict, and even write a scathing rebuke of John Calvin's published writings. Where did much of the contention lay with this strong opponent of John Calvin? The Trinity! Yes, the character named Servetus, c ...more
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Lawrence Goldstone is the author of fourteen books of both fiction and non-fiction. Six of those books were co-authored with his wife, Nancy, but they now write separately to save what is left of their dishes.
Goldstone's articles, reviews, and opinion pieces have appeared in, among other publications, the Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Miami Herald, Hartford Courant, and Berkshi
More about Lawrence Goldstone...

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“Arius's works were then burned, and he was exiled to Illyria, site of present-day Albania, as lacking in charm then as it is now.” 0 likes
“WHAT SERVETUS HAD NOT taken into account was that it does not take very long for revolutions to turn reactionary.” 0 likes
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