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The Heretic by Lewis M. Weinstein
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What risks are your beliefs worth? During the Spanish Inquisition, this question permeates the lives of the Jews and conversos, those who had converted to Catholicism under duress. With noteworthy historical accuracy, Weinstein brings the fictional Catalan family and its nemesis Friar Perez, into the realistic world, one including Gutenberg, the father of the printing press, the infamously evil monk Torquemada, and various members of the royal families of the kingdoms of Spain that were not yet united as one country. There are even Moorish kingdoms that play an important role in the story. From its deeply unsettling beginning with the revelation of Gabriel Catalan’s father to the growing to adulthood of Catalan’s son, the reader gets to know this and other loving committed families and the passions for beliefs that transcend unspeakable cruelties by those of supposedly high moral stature, those who come from a belief system which finds a grave threat in the beliefs of the Catalans and families like them. Catalan, his family members, and other characters are well made and easy for the reader to relate to. This book is eminently worth reading, particularly if one subscribes to Santayana’s warning about those who fail to learn from history, to anyone of deep faith and belief, and to anyone concerned with intolerance, the theme Weinstein expresses candidly and vividly in his story, characters, and afterword. A caveat: those with weak stomachs or delicate sensibilities may find that the cruelties committed in the name of righteous intolerance are so emotionally laden, particularly since they honor historical accuracy, that the horrors sometime seem overwhelming. There are acts of courage and moral strength, of celebration, and those of wisdom well expressed, also, and these moments are the ones that make putting up with the others worthwhile and inspirational. Recommended to any thoughtful reader who can cope with the ugly moments.
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Reading Progress

November 7, 2012 – Started Reading
November 7, 2012 – Shelved
November 7, 2012 –
page 26
6.67% "I'd begun reading a library copy but realized I'd rather read it on my Nook. When the price dropped, I purchased it and have begun it again. Disclaimer: I have never met the author, but am Goodreads friends with Mr. Weinstein."
November 18, 2012 –
page 191
48.97% "The Inquisition of fifteen century Spain, with the noble main character family, the Catalans dealing with unspeakable virulence in the name of religion. Very well made, with fascinating history; (Gutenberg and Torquemada in the same book...!?) I will surely finish, but the exhilarating parts are balanced by horrors that drive me to read only during the daytime, fearing another shoe will drop just before bedtime."
November 23, 2012 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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Lewis Weinstein Thank you for your kind review.

I don't think I overstated the horrors perpetrated by the Catholic Church against Jews in the early days of the Spanish Inquisition. As my friend Monsignor Thomas Hartmann said after he read The Heretic, "The Catholic Church has done awful things to the Jews, and we were wrong."

Steve Smile, Lewis, I don't think you overstated the horrors and I tried to make the point that they were historically accurate. They were horrible, however, and I know a reader or two who wouldn't be able to handle them.

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