|Title: The Stripping
of the Altars
Author: Eamon Duffy
Date published: 1992
Status: in print
Price: GBP 13.95
What is it? A landmark study of the English Reformation, carefully supported by evidence from original sources.
What's it like? In this perspective, the Reformation attack on the cult of the dead was more than a polemic against a "false" metaphysical belief: it was an attempt to redefine the boundaries of human community, and, in an act of exorcism, to limit the claims of the past, and the people of the past, on the people of the present.
What's good about it? It changed history. In the words of Professor Jack Scarisbrick, this is a mighty and momentous book. Duffy wrote the first truly popular revisionist history of the Reformation; his analysis is fairly mainstream now, but ten years ago it got seriously up the nose of the academic and Anglican establishments. His rigorousness in his use of sources, particularly East Anglian ones, his careful drawing together of details, his explosion of previously accepted myths, are second to none. One senses that, across the 600-plus pages, Duffy is intimately involved. Has probably caused more intellectual converts to Catholicism than any Oxbridge professor since Newman.
What's bad about it? Nothing - it's wonderful.
Overall rating: 5/5