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Brand Luther: How an Unheralded Monk Turned His Small Town into a Center of Publishing, Made Himself the Most Famous Man in Europe—and Started the Protestant Reformation
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Brand Luther: How an Unheralded Monk Turned His Small Town into a Center of Publishing, Made Himself the Most Famous Man in Europe—and Started the Protestant Reformation

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  411 ratings  ·  98 reviews
A revolutionary look at Martin Luther, the Reformation, and the birth of publishing, on the eve of the Reformation’s 500th anniversary

When an obscure monk named Martin Luther tacked his “theses” on the door of the Wittenberg church in 1517, protesting corrupt practices, he was virtually unknown. Within months, his ideas spread across Germany, then all of Europe; within yea
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published October 27th 2015 by Penguin Press
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4.07  · 
Rating details
 ·  411 ratings  ·  98 reviews

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Fascinating angle on the Reformation. Brand Luther surprised me in every chapter, and it's been a long time since I've read a book with so much interest. Well researched and written, evenhanded and fair to the figures involved (even Johann Tetzel, who has spent the last 500 years being thrown under the bus by everyone on all sides of the Reformation), Pettegree's book was a pleasure to read, and ably demonstrates the context of Luther and his relationship with printing, how it shaped his role in ...more
Michael Schuermann
Mar 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Pettegree's book covers fairly standard Luther biography ground, but with a unique twist: he regularly explores how the developing German printing industry was an invaluable aid to the Reformation and in particular Luther, and likewise how at the same time Luther himself was an interested, involved, and invaluable help to the printing industry.

This probably isn't the best first biography of Luther to read: that would be either the classic Roland Bainton biography or the more recent one by Scott
Aug 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
For years the newfangled printing press was only utilized by the church, for the church. Small local publishers turned out books in Latin that had little in common with what we expect in a book today, like consistent and grammatically correct word breaks.

The development of the book as we know it was due to Lucas Cranach who created title pages with decorative elements,with the author's name prominently displayed. And he developed this format for his friend, Martin Luther, best-selling writer of
David Steele
How can an unpublished, obscure Roman Catholic monk move from the shadows to the world stage in a matter of years. This is the subject of Andrew Pettegree’s book, Brand Luther. Pettegree walks meticulously through the events of the Reformer’s life; events that would mark a nation and rock the world. This is Brand Luther.

The author sets the stage by alerting readers to Luther’s fascinating background. From his birth in Eisleben to his university days in Erfurt, and his teaching days at in Witten
Jul 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
A somewhat scholarly but nevertheless fascinating account of how Martin Luther became a best-selling author by brilliantly using the fledgling German printing industry to spread the idea of the Protestant Reformation, thereby simultaneously transforming both the world of printing and the world of the church.
Richard Levine
Mar 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
Surprisingly interesting. This certainly isn't a traditional biography of Martin Luther, nor does it delve too deeply into theology -- and in both respects, that was (for my purposes) all to the good. What author Andrew Pettegree focuses on instead, as indicated by the subtitle, is how the emerging technology of the printing press was critical to Luther's success, and how Luther was critical to the development of print publishing in 16th C. Germany. If that sounds like a somewhat arcane topic. . ...more
Gunter Nitsch
Jul 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I had no idea before reading this book about the impact Martin Luther had on the German printing and publishing industry. Highly recommended!
David Robertson
I was tempted to get this book because of a positive review and I am immensely thankful to the reviewer.  I have read several books on Luther but this is probably my favourite.  Andrew Pettegree is a professor of modern history at the University of St Andrews and the founding director of the St Andrews Reformation Studies Institute.  He knows his stuff!  This is not just a biography of Luther, but rather a look at how the printing press and Luther's gifts combined to create a revolution.  It is ...more
May 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Martin Luther's theological revolution would have gone nowhere without the power of the printing press. His uncommon writing talent, his elegance of expression and editorial vigor as well as his personal magnetism propelled the reformation movement forward. He was heavily involved with the nuts and bolts of the printing process: typeface readability, aesthetic page design, paper quality. Having once worked as a printer in a small letterpress shop, I identified with his concerns. Luther didn't ca ...more
Jeremiah Gumm
Jun 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those interested in history, theology, development of technology, Martin Luther, Reformation history
Recommended to Jeremiah by: Dr. Wade Johnston
Pettegree provides a fresh perspective on the history of Martin Luther and the Reformation coming at it from a unique perspective--the printing industry of Luther's era. One of the best new historiographical contributions to the lead-up to the 500th anniversary celebration of the Reformation this year.
Mary Alice
Mar 26, 2018 rated it liked it
I read this book for book club and didn't realize it was more about the Reformation's influence on printing in 16th C Germany than about Luther. As such, it wasn't bad, though I wasn't too interested. It went through Luther's life completely, but much of his doctrine was just hinted at. A disappointment for me.

Nicely written. Easy to understand. Some repetition.
Fascinating first half, second quarter was somewhat boring and too much into the weeds, last quarter pretty good.
Oskars Kaulēns
Dec 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
izsmeļošs vēsturisks ieskats reformācijā un norisēs, kas 16. gadsimtā Mārtiņu Luteru padarīja par zvaigzni ne tikai reliģiskajās, bet arī publicistikas debesīs. meistarīgs savijums starp reformācijas norisi un idejām un to, kā attīstījās vietējā izdevējdarbība, pateicoties Lutera publikācijām un aicinājumiem apšaubīt Katoļu baznīcas pieņemto kārtību.
Mar 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An interesting idea connecting print and Luther together as both were on the rise.
Jan 19, 2016 rated it it was ok
Can you imagine a world without books? Me, either. This book was mainly about the impact that Martin Luther and the beginnings of the reformation had on book printers and book dissemination. Gutenberg, inventor of movable type, went bankrupt due to a lack of a market. Pettegree indicates that prior to Luther, books were mainly for academic purposes (and in Latin) although a major market was ecclesiastic, either for use in church services, or in times closer to Luther's, for printing of indulgenc ...more
Michelle Kidwell
Dec 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Brand Luther

How an Unheralded Monk Turned His Small Town into a Center of Publishing, Made Himself the Most Famous Man in Europe--and Started the Protestant Reformation

by Andrew Pettegree

PENGUIN GROUP The Penguin Press

Penguin Press


Pub Date Oct 27, 2015

In this book we learn about Martin Luther's place in the Reformation.  This book also tells the story of books.  And the impact Martin Luther had on the publishing industry in Europe in the sixteenth century. 

Martin Luther was not only a
Sep 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I received an advanced copy of this book through Penguin Random House First to Read.

I am a history buff. Always have been. I have a degree in history, concentrating on women's history. But my second love in history is religious history and that's why I requested this book and was so excited to have been chosen to read and review it. Martin Luther and the Reformation are intriguing and exciting to read about. One man, having qualms with the Catholic Church and the Pope brought about a huge chang
Mar 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Excellent look at the Reformation through the use of the printing press. Pettegree's major points are that Luther, as the first best selling modern author, parlayed his use of German (not Latin) and brevity to produce a long series of printed successes. Catholic writers stuck to long, dense arguments in Latin, which meant printers had much higher risk when they produced those works.

As much as the printed works did involve theology, Pettergree does not waste time rehashing the long-dead argument
Aug 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
Far be it from me to criticize the work of someone with the breadth of learning possessed by Andrew Pettigree; I've read his The Book in the Renaissance, which is great. This one is not: there's almost no narrative and almost too much about dozens of German printers whose names flee from one's memory after a page is turned.

Also--if you aren't familiar with Luther or what he did, this book won't help. Pettigree assumes you know about Tetzel, indulgences, justification by faith alone, etc. He als
Sep 04, 2017 rated it liked it
Tried to be a hybrid of a Luther biography and study of how Luther leveraged the new technology of printing to his advantage, but fails at either. In all likelihood, this hybrid format is because of it being a work for a popular press rather than a University press; a detailed study of just the branding/printing aspect of Luther and the early Reformation would not have been published by Penguin. Interesting in parts, but much of it is skimmable for those familiar with the details of Luthers life ...more
May 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
This might be one of the best books on the German Reformation I have yet read. That it lends a unique view of the Reformation through the publishing aspect certainly helps. (Had to read this as a text for my ULondon Reformation History course.)
Jan 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A view of Luther's life through the lens of publishing. Especially good for those with some familiarity with Luther's life as there are all sorts of goodies I have never seen in other biographies. Excellent.
Christopher Taylor
I loved this book. It caused a mind explosion. Andrew Pettegree has done an excellent thing for all of us living in our time to understand how significant Martin Luther was to contributing to the information sharing that continues today. Read this book.
Micah Lugg
Jan 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed reading this book.
1. The author's writing style is easy to follow and understand. He presents his vast knowledge together in very readable prose.
2. The lens of the 16th century publishing industry provides a fascinating perspective on the Reformation. Much has been written on the theology of Luther, but Pettegree, while not ignoring the theology, offers insight on the other factors that were at play in shaping the evangelical movement.
3. I love books and thus I enjoyed hearing h
Jill Meyer
Mar 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
There's a newish trend in history writers. They're taking a person's life and instead of writing a long biography, they take a shorter period and look in depth. British author Andrew Pettegree has done just this with his book about Martin Luther, "Brand Luther", where he examines Luther's influence on both religion and in the book publishing business. Not the most common combination but one splendidly presented in Pettegree's book.

Martin Luther was a monk-on-the-rise at the eastern Germany city
Mary Flynn
Mar 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, non-fiction
This was a really interesting and engaging look at print and the Reformation. It includes a wealth of information and uses an engaging, entertaining style to paint a vivid picture of Luther and Reformation Germany.

There were some weak points. It seemed a bit in the throes of an identity crisis: Pettegree couldn't quite seem to decide whether he wanted to write a church history or a book history, whether this was a history of Luther through the lens of print or a history of early modern printing
Jan 08, 2019 rated it liked it
The main thesis of this book is to describe the impact of the Protestant Reformation on the emerging printing industry in Germany. It spends some time describing the impact the other way, as well, but it spends most of its time explaining how Luther created a printing hub in Wittenburg and the effects his influence had on printing elsewhere.
Approximately the first half of this sums up the events before the Reformation in Luther's life, and the early Reformation. It's clear that the author views
Eric Slepak
Jan 30, 2019 rated it liked it
After reading this book based on (the Tides of History podcast host) Patrick Wyman's recommendation, I agree with his opinion that he would be an "Extremely Online" guy (for reference: Luther was relentless and prolific like the best (worst?) people on Twitter, and even had a quasi-Milkshake Duck moment when he Both Sides'd the Peasants Revolt.

...okay, so Luther isn't the only one who is hypothetically Extremely Online. But he's also much more than tha
Joe Henry
Jul 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I became acquainted with this title in a study of Luther in Sunday School. The study was mostly lay-led. This book was recommended as background reading and a helpful source. In fact, Ben C said , "It reads like a novel." I don't know that I expected an action thriller, but I was pleasantly surprised. I found the book interesting and very readable. It was fascinating to me how the availability of the printing press and the printing industry (following the Gutenberg Bible in 1454), Luther's perso ...more
Geo Forman
Jul 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
More than satisfied my curiosity about Luther. He was a master at getting his message out at the dawn of the age of the printing press. Prior to Luther's revolt against the Catholic Church and it's practice of indulgences, the printing press was less than 100 years old and primarily used for the Bible, ancient texts by dead authors and scholarly works mostly in Latin. Luther turned the printing industry on its head by using the vernacular to promote his ideas, which lead to great popularity and ...more
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I began my career working on aspects of the European Reformation. My first book was a study of religious refugee communities in the sixteenth century, and since then I have published on the Dutch Revolt, and on the Reformation in Germany, France and England, as well as a general survey history of the sixteenth century. In the last years the focus of my research has shifted towards an interest in t ...more
“Although Martin Luther's theological message was couched as an exhortation to all Christian people, his frame of reference, the human experiences on which he drew and his emotional sympathies, or almost entirely German.” 2 likes
“A long list of propositions does not necessarily make a coherent argument” 1 likes
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