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Out of the Flames is an intriguing account of Michael Servetus' polemical masterpiece, Christianismi Restituto (1553), which ultimately cost him his life—and then took on a life all its own. Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone follow the travails of this banned book, deftly weaving the historical and religious happenings of each period of history in direct relation to the developing interest in science and reason over Church dogma, a topic which Christianismi Restituto initially confronted. The Goldstones follow its journey from the Reformation to the Counter-Reformation, from the French Revolution to the Enlightenment, and from the Industrial Revolution to the crackdown of Europe's libraries by the Nazi's in World War II, all the while revealing how different groups tried to destroy or glorify its contents according to their own agendas.
The book also passes through the hands and libraries of such thinkers as Leibinz, Voltaire, Rosseau and Jefferson, further illuminating their ideas of free and independent thought. Servetus' largely missed aside on the exact workings of human blood circulation, which did much to contribute to the development of the medical sciences, is also examined.
Well documented and with an extensive bibliography, Out of the Flames is an extraordinary history of the power, and danger, of ideas, and will be of interest to students studying the Reformation, the History of Philosophy, Literature, and the History of Medicine.
"The Goldstone's taut narrative builds to the high drama of Servetus' final days in Geneva, when both the writer and his final brilliant book incurred Calvin's malignant wrath....Though once an influence on Voltaire, Jefferson, and Emerson, Servetus has received little attention in recent decades. This fascinating study should help remedy that neglect."—Booklist (American Library Association)
"...[a] fascinating account...."—Library Journal
"The Goldstones offer both a portrait of an important but neglected Renaissance humanist and a testimony to the power of books to shape minds and hearts."—Publisher's Weekly