"National Book Award Finalist"
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.
About the Author
David Kertzer is Professor of Social Science, and Professor of Anthropology and History, Brown University. He was National Book Award Finalist for The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara, and is the author of Politics and Symbols (1996), Sacrificed for Honor (1993), Ritual Politics and Power (1988), Comrades and Christians (1980), and several other books. Among his recent edited books are Anthropological Demography (with Tom Fricke, 1997) and Aging the Past (with Peter Laslett (1995).
"A thrilling history... Kertzer's careful scholarship and fine narrative skill make a great drama."- Boston Globe
"A lucidly drawn, dramatic narrative. Kertzer's account reads like a courtroom drama. As shapely and surprising as fiction."- Newsday
"Brilliant... a book that has all the merits of a historical thriller."- Daily News