Alice's Reviews > The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara

The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara by David I. Kertzer
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's review
Aug 09, 2007

it was amazing
bookshelves: read-in-2007
Read in August, 2007

This book is absolutely fantastic. It's history, but it reads like a thrilling novel, and it's incredibly well written.

The book centers around the kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara, a 6 year old Jewish boy believed to have been secretly baptized by a Catholic servant. Acting under the authority of the Office of the Inquisition, policemen seized the boy from his parents' home and deposited him in the House of the Catuchumens to be raised as a Catholic. Through this single historical event (and the uproar that followed), the author examines the fall of the Papal States, the Risorgimento in Italy, the history of Catholic treatment of Jews, the influence of liberalism and the 1848 revolutions on the shift toward modernity, and many other historical trends. In doing so, the author ever so subtly (and hence very persuasively) convinces you to his version of events, and his judgments of the historical players.

A mere synopsis cannot do this wonderful history book justice. Kertzer's command of the sources makes his arguments compelling, but it is his gift for storytelling that makes this book worth reading.

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