How an Unheralded Monk Turned his Small Town into a Center of Publishing, Made Himself the Most Famous Man in Europe - and Started the Protestant Reformation
A revolutionary look at Martin Luther, the Reformation, and the birth of publishing, on the eve of the Reformation's 500th anniversary When Martin Luther posted his "theses" on the door of the Wittenberg church in 1517, protesting corrupt practices, he was virtually unknown. Within months, his ideas spread across Germany, then all of Europe; within years, their author was not just famous, but infamous, responsible for catalyzing the violent wave of religious reform that would come to be known as the Protestant Reformation and engulfing Europe in decades of bloody war. Luther came of age with the printing press, and the path to glory of neither one was obvious to the casual observer of the time. Printing was, and is, a risky business-the questions were how to know how much to print and how to get there before the competition. Pettegree illustrates Luther's great gifts not simply as a theologian, but as a communicator, indeed, as the world's first mass-media figure, its first brand . He recognized in printing the power of pamphlets, written in the colloquial German of everyday people, to win the battle of ideas. But that wasn't enough-not just words, but the medium itself was the message. Fatefully, Luther had a partner in the form of artist and businessman Lucas Cranach, who together with Wittenberg's printers created the distinctive look of Luther's pamphlets. Together, Luther and Cranach created a product that spread like wildfire-it was both incredibly successful and widely imitated. Soon Germany was overwhelmed by a blizzard of pamphlets, with Wittenberg at its heart; the Reformation itself would blaze on for more than a hundred years. Publishing in advance of the Reformation's 500th anniversary, Brand Luther fuses the history of religion, of printing, and of capitalism-the literal marketplace of ideas-into one enthralling story, revolutionizing our understanding of one of the pivotal figures and eras in human history.
'"A perceptive study of Luther's ideas and the rise of a new print culture in Europe.... some regard [Luther] as the man who opened the floodgates of modernity, as a very modern man.... Mr. Pettegree does not attempt an explicit comparison, but the name that comes to mind is Steve Jobs, a person who transformed an industry and created his own brand in doing so." - The Wall Street Journal"Insightful and fresh....an important story told with careful scholarship and elegant writing."- National Catholic Reporter"There is very little serious academic work that explicitly explores the role of printing in the rise of Protestantism. Brand Luther fills that gap. It is an insightful and highly scholarly book but it's very readable at the same time. It is a well-researched book that provides deep analysis of the rise of Protestantism. It should be on university curriculums for history. It is a must-read for everyone interested in the history of Europe and religion. Pettegree's scholarship is unmatched in its insight, scholarly value, and authority."- The Washington Book Review "A remarkable story, thoroughly researched and clearly told, and one sure to change the way we think about the early Reformation."- Washington Post"Pettegree expertly guides us through Luther's years and achievements.... Most of all, though, Pettegree deserves credit for his fresh slant on the Reformation and his dynamic storytelling....And as this absorbing and illuminating book capably shows, after Luther, print and public communication-and indeed, religion-would never be the same again."- Weekly Standard "Pettegree...shines light on an overlooked talent of [the Reformation's] main progenitor... Brand Luther shows how Wittenberg's most famous son took keen interest not only in the content of his books, but also in how they were manufactured, designed, and marketed."- Christianity Today "Pettegree admirably presents Luther, warts and all. But in the final analysis, he asks whether printing created Luther and the Protestant Reformation or Luther created mass media through his shrewd manipulation and adaptation of the printing industry to his specific needs. This book argues both-it's hard to separate one from the other since the rising success of printing as well as Protestantism seemed to go hand in hand. Well researched and well written, this essential book is for anyone remotely interested in Luther or early modern technology." -Library Journal"Well researched and well written, this essential book is for anyone remotely interested in Luther or early modern technology."-Sandra Collins, Byzantine Catholic Seminary Lib., Pittsburgh"A cogent and authoritative overview of Martin Luther (1483-1546) and of the burgeoning printing industry that disseminated his ideas....An informative history of a man of 'adamantine strengths and...very human weaknesses' who incited a theological revolution."- Kirkus"Authoritative and beautifully written, Pettegree's book provides a radical take on a revolutionary figure."- Bruce Gordon, Yale Divinity School, author of Calvin"Andrew Pettegree draws on a lifetime's scholarly engagement with the history of the book to offer us a fresh way of looking at Luther and his times. Of all the many new books which will commemorate the momentous events of 1517, this will be one of the most original: not just a biography of Martin Luther, but a study which uses the printing industry as a lens through which to view his extraordinary achievement as writer and inspiration of the movement which reshaped European religion."-Diarmaid MacCulloch, author of The Reformation: A History and Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years"This perceptive and engaging analysis of the German Reformation highlights the fruitful interweaving of Martin Luther's skills as a preacher, writer, and publicist and the burgeoning printing industry. Pettegre