The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara

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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Dec 30, 2008 - History - 368 pages
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Soon to be a major motion picture from Steven Spielberg. 

A National Book Award Finalist

The extraordinary story of how the vatican's imprisonment of a six-year-old Jewish boy in 1858 helped to bring about the collapse of the popes' worldly power in Italy.

Bologna: nightfall, June 1858. A knock sounds at the door of the Jewish merchant Momolo Mortara. Two officers of the Inquisition bust inside and seize Mortara's six-year-old son, Edgardo. As the boy is wrenched from his father's arms, his mother collapses.  The reason for his abduction: the boy had been secretly "baptized" by a family servant.  According to papal law, the child is therefore a Catholic who can be taken from his family and delivered to a special monastery where his conversion will be completed. 
   With this terrifying scene, prize-winning historian David I. Kertzer begins the true story of how one boy's kidnapping became a pivotal event in the collapse of the Vatican as a secular power.  The book evokes the anguish of a modest merchant's family, the rhythms of daily life in a Jewish ghetto, and also explores, through the revolutionary campaigns of Mazzini and Garibaldi and such personages as Napoleon III, the emergence of Italy as a modern national state.  Moving and informative, the Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara reads as both a historical thriller and an authoritative analysis of how a single human tragedy changed the course of history.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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The kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara

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Kertzer (Sacrificed for Honor, Beacon, 1993) has uncovered fascinating new information about the unification of Italy. He recounts here the kidnapping of a six-year-old Jewish boy from Bologna who was ... Read full review

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An excellently written book well researched and presented. However, when one considers inquisitions, scandals, public burnings, tortures and the direct or indirect cause of the murders of millions of people by the Christian, primarily, Catholic church, I cannot understand how they can have the lack of common decency to even appear in public. The Catholic Church has been the greatest blight on the human race. 


Jews in the Land of the Popes
Days of Desperation
The House of the Catechumens
Pope Pius IX
A Servants Sex Life
Meeting Mother
The Church Strikes Back
A Matter of Principle
The Inquisitors Trial
Defending the Inquisitor
The Rites of Rulers
New Hopes for Freeing Edgardo
Edgardos Escape
Archival Sources and Abbreviations

Sir Moses Goes to Rome
The Inquisitors Arrest
The Case Against the Inquisitor

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About the author (2008)

David I. Kertzer is the Paul Dupee, Jr. University Professor of Social Science and professor of anthropology and Italian studies at Brown University, where he served as provost from 2006 to 2011. He is the author of nine books, including The Popes Against the Jews, which was a finalist for the Mark Lynton History Prize, and The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara, which was a finalist for the National Book Award. He has twice been awarded the Marraro Prize from the Society for Italian Historical Studies for the best work on Italian history. He and his wife, Susan, live in Providence, Rhode Island.

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