A blog by the staff of the Thomas Ford Memorial Library
Heretics often are the heroes in Thomas Cahill’s latest installment in the Hinges of History series which is taking readers through the history of Western civilization. Heretics and Heroes: How Renaissance Artists and Reformation Priest Created Our World is the sixth of seven books promised. It’s like the Harry Potter series in a way in that there is a struggle between strong forces. In Heretics and Heroes, the fight through the ages is between followers of Plato and those who favor Aristotle – not that they realize that they are fighting the same fight as the Greek philosophers.
What I like about Cahill is he makes surveying history fun. I listened to his own recording of Heretics and Heroes and think that he would be a great lecturer, if not a welcomed lunch companion. His comments on the most famous figures, such as Dante Alighieri, Leonardo da Vinci, Christopher Columbus, Martin Luther, Henry VIII, and a host of rotten popes are humorous and insightful. I feel I better know some of the names that had previously just been names to me. The course of history also makes more sense as Cahill does connect past and present.
Cahill says that Luther did not actually nail his 95 Theses on a church door. They did, however, cause quite a stir, which the author describes.
I see there is not consensus on the quality of Cahill’s books. The Library Journal reviewer of this title said “Cahill takes on the Renaissance and Reformation and mangles them as badly as he did the Middle Ages in his previous entry.” This gives statement, of course, gives me another reason to read more about these fascinating periods. No one should ever just take one author’s vision as gospel. – Review by Rick