The Grand Inquisitor’s Manual: A History of Terror in the Name of God

Written by Jonathan Kirsch
Review by Lucille Cormier

Jonathan Kirsch does not mince words or cater to delicate sensibilities in this well-documented history of the Inquisition’s 600 year reign of terror.

From the 13th century to the 19th the Catholic church engaged in a program of doctrinal cleansing using terror, torture, and death to eliminate those accused of deviating —in thought or deed—from official Church doctrine. Kirsch chronicles the persecution and displays its grisly “toolbox.” But sadism and inhumanity are not his principal focus. His aim is to warn against regimes that use fear to enforce conformity, that police free thought and prosecute “thought crimes.”

The Grand Inquisitor’s Manual is a thoughtful and timely book, passionately written and well worth the read.