Barnes and Noble Review
It is an enormously entertaining piece of narrative history along the lines of David Hackett Fischer and Jill Lepore, nimble and learned in the same breath. O’Shea draws with clarity the world of southern France in all the dangerous complexity of the late 1200s: ruthless king, imperious pope, mass murders and incarcerations, rich in discontent, rivalry, and riot.
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A Franciscan Brother stands up to the inquisition in Southern France, and the inquisition backs down!… O’Shea’s third book on the subject reinforces his reputation as an expert on medieval France and shows how much he has expanded his knowledge of the Cathars’ philosophy and practices… O’Shea’s thorough research and effortless writing exposes the political and economic side of the inquisition and its irreversible damage to the Catholic Church.
R.I. Moore, author “The Formation of a Persecuting Society”
O’Shea’s vivid evocation of the extraordinary and moving story of Bernard Délicieux rests on wide-ranging knowledge and shrewd historical judgment.
“The background to the persecution of the heretical Cathar sect in the early 14th century is so exuberantly coloured that O’Shea’s narrative crackles with the pace of a gripping historical novel.”
“…Stephen O’Shea is more than a writer of historical narratives. He is designing engineer and pilot of a time machine that transports readers back 800 years or more. He takes us to medieval Europe, a world alien to modern sensibilities, and makes it understandable by illuminating the historical record with the storytelling techniques of new journalism: scene setting, character development, and dialogue… If this were the way history was taught in high school and colleges, we’d all aspire to be medieval scholars.”
Penelope Farthing, Washington Independent Review of Books
“A tasty read for a history buff who will come away with a new hero and a deeper understanding of a tumultuous time.”
David V Barrett, The Independent
“Criticising the inquisitors drew dangerous attention to yourself; it suggested that at least you sympathised with the heretics. Yet this is what a Franciscan friar did, year after year, at the start of the 14th century, as this fascinating book explores.” Read full review
Phil Kukielski, The Providence
“He takes us to medieval Europe, a world alien to modern sensibilities, and makes it understandable by illuminating the historical record with the storytelling techniques of new journalism: scene setting, character development, and dialogue.”
Sean McGlynn, BBC History Magazine
“This is a great story, full of fascinating and odious characters corrupted by power, and O’Shea tells it well with a real sense of excitement that makes it a pleasure to read.” Read full review