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A revolutionary look at Martin Luther, the Reformation, and the birth of publishing, on the eve of the Reformation’s 500th anniversary When an obscure monk named Martin Luther tacked 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 yea A revolutionary look at Martin Luther, the Reformation, and the birth of publishing, on the eve of the Reformation’s 500th anniversary When an obscure monk named Martin Luther tacked 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. Andrew Pettegree is perhaps our most distinguished living historian of the print revolution, but he launched his career as a historian of the Reformation. That double vision positions him to comprehend this epic event, not simply as a religious story but also as a story about how ideas were carried and spread in new ways, by new things—things called mass-produced books. 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 gift 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 Wittenberg in the form of artist and businessman Lucas Cranach, who together with Wittenberg’s printers created the look of Luther's pamphlets, which included the distinct highlighting of the words "Martin Luther of Wittenberg" on the title page. Cranach also created the iconic portraits of Luther that made the reformer such a familiar figure to his fellow Germans. 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 all of human history.


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A revolutionary look at Martin Luther, the Reformation, and the birth of publishing, on the eve of the Reformation’s 500th anniversary When an obscure monk named Martin Luther tacked 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 yea A revolutionary look at Martin Luther, the Reformation, and the birth of publishing, on the eve of the Reformation’s 500th anniversary When an obscure monk named Martin Luther tacked 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. Andrew Pettegree is perhaps our most distinguished living historian of the print revolution, but he launched his career as a historian of the Reformation. That double vision positions him to comprehend this epic event, not simply as a religious story but also as a story about how ideas were carried and spread in new ways, by new things—things called mass-produced books. 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 gift 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 Wittenberg in the form of artist and businessman Lucas Cranach, who together with Wittenberg’s printers created the look of Luther's pamphlets, which included the distinct highlighting of the words "Martin Luther of Wittenberg" on the title page. Cranach also created the iconic portraits of Luther that made the reformer such a familiar figure to his fellow Germans. 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 all of human history.

30 review for Brand Luther: 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

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jordan

    Fascinating angle on the Reformation. Brand Luther surprised me in every chapter, and it's been a long time since I've read a book with so much interest. Well researched and written, evenhanded and fair to the figures involved (even Johann Tetzel, who has spent the last 500 years being thrown under the bus by everyone on all sides of the Reformation), Pettegree's book was a pleasure to read, and ably demonstrates the context of Luther and his relationship with printing, how it shaped his role in Fascinating angle on the Reformation. Brand Luther surprised me in every chapter, and it's been a long time since I've read a book with so much interest. Well researched and written, evenhanded and fair to the figures involved (even Johann Tetzel, who has spent the last 500 years being thrown under the bus by everyone on all sides of the Reformation), Pettegree's book was a pleasure to read, and ably demonstrates the context of Luther and his relationship with printing, how it shaped his role in the Reformation, and how he, in turn, transformed the printing business. Highly recommended.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Michael Schuermann

    Pettegree's book covers fairly standard Luther biography ground, but with a unique twist: he regularly explores how the developing German printing industry was an invaluable aid to the Reformation and in particular Luther, and likewise how at the same time Luther himself was an interested, involved, and invaluable help to the printing industry. This probably isn't the best first biography of Luther to read: that would be either the classic Roland Bainton biography or the more recent one by Scott Pettegree's book covers fairly standard Luther biography ground, but with a unique twist: he regularly explores how the developing German printing industry was an invaluable aid to the Reformation and in particular Luther, and likewise how at the same time Luther himself was an interested, involved, and invaluable help to the printing industry. This probably isn't the best first biography of Luther to read: that would be either the classic Roland Bainton biography or the more recent one by Scott Hendrix: Martin Luther - Visionary Reformer. However, this text is great for learning a bit more about the process of the Reformation. Also, unlike the above books, Pettegree spends time exploring the 100 years following Luther's death and the trials and victories of the Reformation and printing-industry causes during that time. Great book. Highly recommended.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    For years the newfangled printing press was only utilized by the church, for the church. Small local publishers turned out books in Latin that had little in common with what we expect in a book today, like consistent and grammatically correct word breaks. The development of the book as we know it was due to Lucas Cranach who created title pages with decorative elements,with the author's name prominently displayed. And he developed this format for his friend, Martin Luther, best-selling writer of For years the newfangled printing press was only utilized by the church, for the church. Small local publishers turned out books in Latin that had little in common with what we expect in a book today, like consistent and grammatically correct word breaks. The development of the book as we know it was due to Lucas Cranach who created title pages with decorative elements,with the author's name prominently displayed. And he developed this format for his friend, Martin Luther, best-selling writer of the early 1500s. Andrew Pettegree's title tells the whole story: Brand Luther: 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. The book tells the stories of a monk turned best-selling author, a one-customer book industry that found an explosive new market, and how a small town became a boom town. I learned in my Reformation History course that Luther was a Cultural Icon, a mass-media guru who used the latest technology--and gasp, even wrote in the vernacular so non-clerics could read theology and the Bible! In 1513 when Luther arrived in Wittenberg he though it was a small. ugly village on the edge of civilization. Even the rival of Luther's Patron remarked, "That a single monk, out of such a hole, could undertake a Reformation, is not to be tolerated." The university printing press was the only operation in town, and its printer slow and his book inelegant. By 1543 there were six shops turning out about 90 books a year. Luther single-handedly changed the book business. How the printing industry and the Reformation were intertwined is at the heart of this book Pettegree has a readable style and his presentation of the history and theology was not difficult to follow. Although not a biography of Luther, or a study in Reformation history, the reader will learn a great deal about both. Included in the book are illustrations, including the books discussed, and portraits of Luther by Cranach. 1541 Bible translated by Martin Luther, design by Lucas Cranach I received a free ebook from the publisher in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

  4. 4 out of 5

    David Steele

    How can an unpublished, obscure Roman Catholic monk move from the shadows to the world stage in a matter of years. This is the subject of Andrew Pettegree’s book, Brand Luther. Pettegree walks meticulously through the events of the Reformer’s life; events that would mark a nation and rock the world. This is Brand Luther. The author sets the stage by alerting readers to Luther’s fascinating background. From his birth in Eisleben to his university days in Erfurt, and his teaching days at in Witten How can an unpublished, obscure Roman Catholic monk move from the shadows to the world stage in a matter of years. This is the subject of Andrew Pettegree’s book, Brand Luther. Pettegree walks meticulously through the events of the Reformer’s life; events that would mark a nation and rock the world. This is Brand Luther. The author sets the stage by alerting readers to Luther’s fascinating background. From his birth in Eisleben to his university days in Erfurt, and his teaching days at in Wittenberg, Pettegree establishes Luther’s cultural context along with vivid allusions to the theological landscape. Ultimately, his design is to show how Luther rises to prominence in a most unusual way. Brand Luther is unique in that it captures the pathos of the 16th century. The author delves into matters that pertain to culture, theology, economics, and personal emotion - to name a few. The author has an uncanny ability of navigating readers on the path that Luther walked and placing them in the emotional state he experienced and the physical ailments he endured. The turmoil that Luther felt and the threat of impending death looms like London fog on a cold autumn evening. The author argues that Luther’s writing along with the establishment of the printing press are integral to his success, not to mention the gains of the Protestant Reformation: “Many things conspired to ensure Luther’s unlikely survival through the first years of the Reformation, but one of them was undoubtedly print.” The book is filled with evidence that points in this direction which bolsters the author’s thesis along the way. Brand Luther is a serious work of history which spans nearly 400 pages but the book reads like a novel - quite an accomplishment for a scholarly work! Essential reading for students of the Reformation!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    A somewhat scholarly but nevertheless fascinating account of how Martin Luther became a best-selling author by brilliantly using the fledgling German printing industry to spread the idea of the Protestant Reformation, thereby simultaneously transforming both the world of printing and the world of the church.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Gunter Nitsch

    I had no idea before reading this book about the impact Martin Luther had on the German printing and publishing industry. Highly recommended!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Richard Levine

    Surprisingly interesting. This certainly isn't a traditional biography of Martin Luther, nor does it delve too deeply into theology -- and in both respects, that was (for my purposes) all to the good. What author Andrew Pettegree focuses on instead, as indicated by the subtitle, is how the emerging technology of the printing press was critical to Luther's success, and how Luther was critical to the development of print publishing in 16th C. Germany. If that sounds like a somewhat arcane topic. . Surprisingly interesting. This certainly isn't a traditional biography of Martin Luther, nor does it delve too deeply into theology -- and in both respects, that was (for my purposes) all to the good. What author Andrew Pettegree focuses on instead, as indicated by the subtitle, is how the emerging technology of the printing press was critical to Luther's success, and how Luther was critical to the development of print publishing in 16th C. Germany. If that sounds like a somewhat arcane topic. . . well, I guess it is. But Pettegree writes clearly and well, and really knows his stuff, so although at times the book may be a bit repetitive and over-packed with details about 16th C. printing, in the end I felt that Pettegree provided some keen insights about the beginnings of the modern era in the West -- or perhaps I should call it the Era of the Printed Word -- that I should have learned in high school. I have a distant memory that my high school textbook mentioned among the *Important Events* of Western Civilization the invention of the printing press, the Reformation, and the beginnings of the use of vernacular across Europe, but I don't remember understanding the significance of these events or how they related to each other. Pettegree puts these pieces together, focusing on Luther as a writer/communicator/propagandist whose appreciation of the importance of print technology helped him become the most famous man in Europe. First, far better than his contemporary friends and foes, Luther quickly learned how to use printed books and pamphlets to spread his views widely and effectively. He obsessed not just about the words he wrote but about the timing, accuracy, visual appeal, and effective distribution of these printed works. Second, by writing in plain German, rather than in Latin, he increased his potential audience many, many times over. This was good for the local printers' pocketbooks, but it also was critical for Luther because it meant that many of his countrymen (notably including the elites who could help protect him and further his views) -- not just other Church men -- could understand his arguments. Just a few decades before Luther's birth, books were extremely rare and expensive objects that were hand copied, and therefore owned by only the wealthy few; but during Luther's lifetime hundreds of thousands of copies of his writings were printed and distributed throughout Germany. And a Church that for centuries was used to conducting academic theological debates in Latin did not always have a ready response.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mary Alice

    I read this book for book club and didn't realize it was more about the Reformation's influence on printing in 16th C Germany than about Luther. As such, it wasn't bad, though I wasn't too interested. It went through Luther's life completely, but much of his doctrine was just hinted at. A disappointment for me. Nicely written. Easy to understand. Some repetition. I read this book for book club and didn't realize it was more about the Reformation's influence on printing in 16th C Germany than about Luther. As such, it wasn't bad, though I wasn't too interested. It went through Luther's life completely, but much of his doctrine was just hinted at. A disappointment for me. Nicely written. Easy to understand. Some repetition.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Joshua

    This might be one of the best books on the German Reformation I have yet read. That it lends a unique view of the Reformation through the publishing aspect certainly helps. (Had to read this as a text for my ULondon Reformation History course.)

  10. 4 out of 5

    David Robertson

    I was tempted to get this book because of a positive review and I am immensely thankful to the reviewer.  I have read several books on Luther but this is probably my favourite.  Andrew Pettegree is a professor of modern history at the University of St Andrews and the founding director of the St Andrews Reformation Studies Institute.  He knows his stuff!  This is not just a biography of Luther, but rather a look at how the printing press and Luther's gifts combined to create a revolution.  It is I was tempted to get this book because of a positive review and I am immensely thankful to the reviewer.  I have read several books on Luther but this is probably my favourite.  Andrew Pettegree is a professor of modern history at the University of St Andrews and the founding director of the St Andrews Reformation Studies Institute.  He knows his stuff!  This is not just a biography of Luther, but rather a look at how the printing press and Luther's gifts combined to create a revolution.  It is superbly written, historically detailed (and accurate) and because of its depth provides a real new perspective and fresh insight on Luther (even on the question of Luther and the Jews).   This is first-rate history, politics and theology.  Highly recommended.  "Naturally he gave the credit to the direct intervention of a beneficent deity: printing, he believed, was technology heaven-sent to spread God's word and banish error" 

  11. 5 out of 5

    John

    Martin Luther's theological revolution would have gone nowhere without the power of the printing press. His uncommon writing talent, his elegance of expression and editorial vigor as well as his personal magnetism propelled the reformation movement forward. He was heavily involved with the nuts and bolts of the printing process: typeface readability, aesthetic page design, paper quality. Having once worked as a printer in a small letterpress shop, I identified with his concerns. Luther didn't ca Martin Luther's theological revolution would have gone nowhere without the power of the printing press. His uncommon writing talent, his elegance of expression and editorial vigor as well as his personal magnetism propelled the reformation movement forward. He was heavily involved with the nuts and bolts of the printing process: typeface readability, aesthetic page design, paper quality. Having once worked as a printer in a small letterpress shop, I identified with his concerns. Luther didn't care about making money from his works (indeed, one print shop after another freely pirated his booklets). Result: two new eras were launched, the Protestant Reformation and the printing industry. Overall, I found this book a perceptive and engaging analysis of the era (1517-46). Also, I gained new insights into Luther's life.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jeremiah Gumm

    Pettegree provides a fresh perspective on the history of Martin Luther and the Reformation coming at it from a unique perspective--the printing industry of Luther's era. One of the best new historiographical contributions to the lead-up to the 500th anniversary celebration of the Reformation this year. Pettegree provides a fresh perspective on the history of Martin Luther and the Reformation coming at it from a unique perspective--the printing industry of Luther's era. One of the best new historiographical contributions to the lead-up to the 500th anniversary celebration of the Reformation this year.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jane

    Fascinating first half, second quarter was somewhat boring and too much into the weeds, last quarter pretty good.

  14. 5 out of 5

    David

    An interesting idea connecting print and Luther together as both were on the rise.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Monical

    Can you imagine a world without books? Me, either. This book was mainly about the impact that Martin Luther and the beginnings of the reformation had on book printers and book dissemination. Gutenberg, inventor of movable type, went bankrupt due to a lack of a market. Pettegree indicates that prior to Luther, books were mainly for academic purposes (and in Latin) although a major market was ecclesiastic, either for use in church services, or in times closer to Luther's, for printing of indulgenc Can you imagine a world without books? Me, either. This book was mainly about the impact that Martin Luther and the beginnings of the reformation had on book printers and book dissemination. Gutenberg, inventor of movable type, went bankrupt due to a lack of a market. Pettegree indicates that prior to Luther, books were mainly for academic purposes (and in Latin) although a major market was ecclesiastic, either for use in church services, or in times closer to Luther's, for printing of indulgences, the ultimate in "get out of jail" certificates, that were a major source of funding for both the Pope and for local churches. As you may recall, Luther's initial revolt was against these indulgences. Luther was extremely prolific and published in German, and apparently injected new life into the printing business since his publications were often short (easy to print and to sell) and very popular. The book was not especially well written-- there is lots of repetition, and poor explanations of the complexities of the times (sometimes it seemed that Pettegree assumed his readers would already know a lot of that, but it is obscure to me). It was a tough slog, but I finished, and I learned quite a bit about 16th century printing, politics and religion; but it will take more investigating to consolidate the information.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Michelle Kidwell

    Brand Luther 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 by Andrew Pettegree PENGUIN GROUP The Penguin Press Penguin Press Christian Pub Date Oct 27, 2015 In this book we learn about Martin Luther's place in the Reformation.  This book also tells the story of books.  And the impact Martin Luther had on the publishing industry in Europe in the sixteenth century.  Martin Luther was not only a Brand Luther 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 by Andrew Pettegree PENGUIN GROUP The Penguin Press Penguin Press Christian Pub Date Oct 27, 2015 In this book we learn about Martin Luther's place in the Reformation.  This book also tells the story of books.  And the impact Martin Luther had on the publishing industry in Europe in the sixteenth century.  Martin Luther was not only a theologian but a writer of great skill, as well as a preacher.  Martin Luther's early years in Wittenberg were a  time of exploration and discovery. Between 1518 and1519 Martin Luther became a public figure.  His new place as a public figure would lead to trips outside of Wittenberg both short and longer more arduous journeys. We learn in this book that the Reformation brought books into the hands of those who could only dream of owning books before the Reformation.  This book not only talks about Martin Luther's place in the Reformation but the role he and his writings played in bringing life to the printing industry. I give this book five out of five stars Happy Reading and Merry Christmas

  17. 5 out of 5

    Cindy

    I received an advanced copy of this book through Penguin Random House First to Read. I am a history buff. Always have been. I have a degree in history, concentrating on women's history. But my second love in history is religious history and that's why I requested this book and was so excited to have been chosen to read and review it. Martin Luther and the Reformation are intriguing and exciting to read about. One man, having qualms with the Catholic Church and the Pope brought about a huge chang I received an advanced copy of this book through Penguin Random House First to Read. I am a history buff. Always have been. I have a degree in history, concentrating on women's history. But my second love in history is religious history and that's why I requested this book and was so excited to have been chosen to read and review it. Martin Luther and the Reformation are intriguing and exciting to read about. One man, having qualms with the Catholic Church and the Pope brought about a huge change in Christian history. One man and his followers. His story shows us what one person can do to change the whole of history. One person and their opinions. This book was a fantastic insight in Martin Luther, his followers and protectors, and the Reformation. I would recommend it to anyone who has a love of religious history, in particular Christian history.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Richard

    Excellent look at the Reformation through the use of the printing press. Pettegree's major points are that Luther, as the first best selling modern author, parlayed his use of German (not Latin) and brevity to produce a long series of printed successes. Catholic writers stuck to long, dense arguments in Latin, which meant printers had much higher risk when they produced those works. As much as the printed works did involve theology, Pettergree does not waste time rehashing the long-dead argument Excellent look at the Reformation through the use of the printing press. Pettegree's major points are that Luther, as the first best selling modern author, parlayed his use of German (not Latin) and brevity to produce a long series of printed successes. Catholic writers stuck to long, dense arguments in Latin, which meant printers had much higher risk when they produced those works. As much as the printed works did involve theology, Pettergree does not waste time rehashing the long-dead arguments, instead focusing on the Luther Brand that guaranteed printers their profits. Not only was printing profitable, but keeping indulgence money in Germany brought the backing of local nobles--even those who remained Catholic all their lives. Well-written, this is an enjoyable read and well worth your valuable reading time.

  19. 4 out of 5

    James

    Far be it from me to criticize the work of someone with the breadth of learning possessed by Andrew Pettigree; I've read his The Book in the Renaissance, which is great. This one is not: there's almost no narrative and almost too much about dozens of German printers whose names flee from one's memory after a page is turned. Also--if you aren't familiar with Luther or what he did, this book won't help. Pettigree assumes you know about Tetzel, indulgences, justification by faith alone, etc. He als Far be it from me to criticize the work of someone with the breadth of learning possessed by Andrew Pettigree; I've read his The Book in the Renaissance, which is great. This one is not: there's almost no narrative and almost too much about dozens of German printers whose names flee from one's memory after a page is turned. Also--if you aren't familiar with Luther or what he did, this book won't help. Pettigree assumes you know about Tetzel, indulgences, justification by faith alone, etc. He also never gets into these ideas, instead offering ways in which Luther got out his word. We get the means of distribution but not what was distributed. The comparison to modern advertising--the "Brand" of the title--doesn't really work.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Andrea Engle

    Splendid book, absolutely stellar ... narrates the rise of Martin Luther and how he orchestrated the exponential growth of the fledgling printing industry ... how his theological and pastoral writings were eagerly disseminated by this relatively new media ... thus driving the success of the nascent Reformation, particularly because Luther wrote not only in Latin, but mainly in the more accessible German .... spreading his thoughts like wildfire amongst his contemporaries ... also details the con Splendid book, absolutely stellar ... narrates the rise of Martin Luther and how he orchestrated the exponential growth of the fledgling printing industry ... how his theological and pastoral writings were eagerly disseminated by this relatively new media ... thus driving the success of the nascent Reformation, particularly because Luther wrote not only in Latin, but mainly in the more accessible German .... spreading his thoughts like wildfire amongst his contemporaries ... also details the contributions of others such as Melanchthon, Cranach and Elector Frederick the Wise ... a thought-provoking read ...

  21. 4 out of 5

    DonkeyPopsicle

    Tried to be a hybrid of a Luther biography and study of how Luther leveraged the new technology of printing to his advantage, but fails at either. In all likelihood, this hybrid format is because of it being a work for a popular press rather than a University press; a detailed study of just the branding/printing aspect of Luther and the early Reformation would not have been published by Penguin. Interesting in parts, but much of it is skimmable for those familiar with the details of Luthers life Tried to be a hybrid of a Luther biography and study of how Luther leveraged the new technology of printing to his advantage, but fails at either. In all likelihood, this hybrid format is because of it being a work for a popular press rather than a University press; a detailed study of just the branding/printing aspect of Luther and the early Reformation would not have been published by Penguin. Interesting in parts, but much of it is skimmable for those familiar with the details of Luthers life and the early Reformation.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Margaret Sankey

    Along with an excellent review of the early Reformation, Pettegree explains why it was Luther, working from a small, second-rate university town, whose ideas caught fire and spread the challenge to the Catholic Church. His answer is to see Luther as a consciously crafted *brand*--through a specific look to the printed works made in Wittenberg under his supervision, illustrated by Cranach, written in accessible German, all maintaining an image and a connection to German-speaking people.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Taylor

    I loved this book. It caused a mind explosion. Andrew Pettegree has done an excellent thing for all of us living in our time to understand how significant Martin Luther was to contributing to the information sharing that continues today. Read this book.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Scott

    A view of Luther's life through the lens of publishing. Especially good for those with some familiarity with Luther's life as there are all sorts of goodies I have never seen in other biographies. Excellent. A view of Luther's life through the lens of publishing. Especially good for those with some familiarity with Luther's life as there are all sorts of goodies I have never seen in other biographies. Excellent.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ed Crutchley

    In this original approach, Luther’s life is examined with an accent on media, in the general sense of the term, and Luther’s control of it. It led to his success in the early sixteenth century. There existed a number of fortuitous pre-existing factors that helped him, though. Disillusionment with the Roman Church was already festering; Germany being a country of so many small states meant that there could be no organised censorship; the German printing industry was ripe for the opportunity he wa In this original approach, Luther’s life is examined with an accent on media, in the general sense of the term, and Luther’s control of it. It led to his success in the early sixteenth century. There existed a number of fortuitous pre-existing factors that helped him, though. Disillusionment with the Roman Church was already festering; Germany being a country of so many small states meant that there could be no organised censorship; the German printing industry was ripe for the opportunity he was able to provide; the use of German instead of Latin stood to dramatically expand the reach of new ideas. Added to these were Luther’s charisma and the talent with which he was able to surround himself; the refusal of Frederick the Wise, Elector of Wittenberg, to restrain him; the branding effect of Marcus Cranach’s illustrations, and the very names of Luther and Wittenberg. The absence of copyright meant that the printed word could spread rapidly to neighbouring jurisdictions. Printers’ financial risks were for once extremely low because their first productions for Luther were small, and the population lapped them up far more than any Catholic ripostes. Luther cleverly spread his favours among printers so as to prevent anti-competitive practices. It was a time when an author could yield power over the printer. Luther even encouraged new printers to set up in Wittenberg, and he spent much time on site ensuring the quality of their work. One loser in all this was the previously dominant Leipzig printing industry; Duke George of Saxony’s clamp down on reformist literature meant that it crashed. However, it should be said that for the majority of Germans the pulpit was their source of information on the reformation. Luther’s good image was fostered by becoming a family man with a range of ideas to further society. He campaigned for universal education and state-run schools for boys and girls.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Micah Lugg

    I really enjoyed reading this book. 1. The author's writing style is easy to follow and understand. He presents his vast knowledge together in very readable prose. 2. The lens of the 16th century publishing industry provides a fascinating perspective on the Reformation. Much has been written on the theology of Luther, but Pettegree, while not ignoring the theology, offers insight on the other factors that were at play in shaping the evangelical movement. 3. I love books and thus I enjoyed hearing h I really enjoyed reading this book. 1. The author's writing style is easy to follow and understand. He presents his vast knowledge together in very readable prose. 2. The lens of the 16th century publishing industry provides a fascinating perspective on the Reformation. Much has been written on the theology of Luther, but Pettegree, while not ignoring the theology, offers insight on the other factors that were at play in shaping the evangelical movement. 3. I love books and thus I enjoyed hearing how Luther creatively used the relatively new medium of book publishing to send the message of the gospel far and wide. He was a gifted writer and he used that ability to reach the people of Germany. 4. While appreciating what Luther accomplished, Pettegree also documents the casualties and collateral damage of Luther's actions. Luther's personality made him uniquely suited to lead a movement, but it also caused some people to get plowed over in the process. 5. Lastly, one of the appeals of this work is that it made the times and people real. Luther is pulled out of legend and into real life, but without crushing the legend. He corrects the record on a few points, and thus helps one have an accurate view of the life and times of this great man. Highly recommended. Other works are better for understanding the theological debates with other branches of the Reformation, but for what this works sets out to accomplish, it does very well.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Mary Flynn

    This was a really interesting and engaging look at print and the Reformation. It includes a wealth of information and uses an engaging, entertaining style to paint a vivid picture of Luther and Reformation Germany. There were some weak points. It seemed a bit in the throes of an identity crisis: Pettegree couldn't quite seem to decide whether he wanted to write a church history or a book history, whether this was a history of Luther through the lens of print or a history of early modern printing This was a really interesting and engaging look at print and the Reformation. It includes a wealth of information and uses an engaging, entertaining style to paint a vivid picture of Luther and Reformation Germany. There were some weak points. It seemed a bit in the throes of an identity crisis: Pettegree couldn't quite seem to decide whether he wanted to write a church history or a book history, whether this was a history of Luther through the lens of print or a history of early modern printing through the lens of the Reformation, and consequently there'd be chunks of church history with no tie to printing and chunks of book history with no obvious tie to religious reform. Just at times a bit clunky. Also, the logic could be circular sometimes. The Reformation was a populist movement because Luther wrote in the vernacular, but Luther's vernacular works were popular because of the Reformation's populist appeal. Not always clear in the chicken or the egg. Still, I'm a fan of this thorough and informative look at the Reformation. Admittedly, it's hard not to be engaging with Luther as a subject, and Pettegree is no exception. But it's definitely an amusing, accessible entry to an embarrassment of riches in terms of Reformation history.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jill Meyer

    There's a newish trend in history writers. They're taking a person's life and instead of writing a long biography, they take a shorter period and look in depth. British author Andrew Pettegree has done just this with his book about Martin Luther, "Brand Luther", where he examines Luther's influence on both religion and in the book publishing business. Not the most common combination but one splendidly presented in Pettegree's book. Martin Luther was a monk-on-the-rise at the eastern Germany city There's a newish trend in history writers. They're taking a person's life and instead of writing a long biography, they take a shorter period and look in depth. British author Andrew Pettegree has done just this with his book about Martin Luther, "Brand Luther", where he examines Luther's influence on both religion and in the book publishing business. Not the most common combination but one splendidly presented in Pettegree's book. Martin Luther was a monk-on-the-rise at the eastern Germany city of Wittenberg. Becoming well-known for pushing against the Catholic Church's selling of clerical indulgences to lessen one's time in purgatory, Luther was also a prolific writer. He wrote about religious matters in both Latin and the vernacular, German. In 1517 he posted his 95 Thesis on the door of the main church in Wittenberg and from there, questions began to be asked. Pettegree examines Luther's gathering influence on the Church and politics. He shows Luther's good points and his bad one's, too. Pettegree doesn't try to whitewash Luther's anti-Semitism. Pettegree brings the religion and the business and the political together in his book. He's a very good writer and the book is very good for those readers interested in the Reformation.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Louise Douglas

    I started reading this book as a recommendation when we celebrated the 500th anniversary of the reformation in Church. As the reformation started in 1517, that probably makes it quite obvious that it’s taken me quite a while to read this! The book was a fascinating take on the reformation, focused on the impact that Martin Luther had on the printing industry in Germany. Not too deep on theology, but I found the subject matter rather dry and scholarly so I didn’t find myself with a huge desire to I started reading this book as a recommendation when we celebrated the 500th anniversary of the reformation in Church. As the reformation started in 1517, that probably makes it quite obvious that it’s taken me quite a while to read this! The book was a fascinating take on the reformation, focused on the impact that Martin Luther had on the printing industry in Germany. Not too deep on theology, but I found the subject matter rather dry and scholarly so I didn’t find myself with a huge desire to pick up the book. As such, it has sat on my bedside table being read 1 or 2 pages at a time. That means I can’t really give it a fair review as I probably didn’t give it the chance it deserved to be appreciated fully, but what I will say is that although it took me so long to read, I definitely felt like I learned a lot from reading it, and things that I didn’t learn from the other reformation history book I read by Nick Page. If you’re interested in the history of the printing press more than the history of the reformation, I’d definitely recommend this book, but I think there are definitely (for me) more engaging books on the reformation. Posted on: http://emmaloui.se/2019/06/19/andrew-...

  30. 5 out of 5

    Noel

    The main thesis of this book is to describe the impact of the Protestant Reformation on the emerging printing industry in Germany. It spends some time describing the impact the other way, as well, but it spends most of its time explaining how Luther created a printing hub in Wittenburg and the effects his influence had on printing elsewhere. Approximately the first half of this sums up the events before the Reformation in Luther's life, and the early Reformation. It's clear that the author views The main thesis of this book is to describe the impact of the Protestant Reformation on the emerging printing industry in Germany. It spends some time describing the impact the other way, as well, but it spends most of its time explaining how Luther created a printing hub in Wittenburg and the effects his influence had on printing elsewhere. Approximately the first half of this sums up the events before the Reformation in Luther's life, and the early Reformation. It's clear that the author views this as catching their readers up so they can talk about what the really care about, the printing industry and the design of the Reformation pamphlet. As a result, the first half of this book is extremely dry. It reads like a boring textbook. The second half picks up, a genuinely passionate essay about the printing industry and how Luther morphed it to suit the needs of his growing movement. I would recommend this book to those interested, but be aware that the first half is a boring slog.

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