The Spanish Inquisition by Joseph Perez

The author is obviously a committed Catholic. In this book he soft-pedals the Spanish Inquisition, arguing that it was bad, but really not as bad as all that. He argues that originally the aim of the Inquisition was not to eliminate Jews but merely to eliminate Judaism…a distinction that Jews will probably not appreciate. He observes that Grand Inquisitor Torquemada was a man of the utmost integrity. He helpfully points out that in the sixteenth century the Inquisition did not burn witches but only Protestants. And he is dismissive of the argument that the Inquisition thwarted scientific and intellectual progress in Spain, although he acknowledges that it discouraged critical scholarship and even reading of any kind altogether. Moreover, throughout the book he seems more interested in the bureaucratic machinery of the Inquisition than in the suffering it inflicted on innocent people. He is not exactly an apologist for the Inquisition…who can be one?…but he comes close.

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