Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Two Books on the Reformation

An interesting contrast here, between two books on the Reformation, of a similar length, published at a similar time. Reformation - Europe's House Divided, by Diarmaid MacCulloch, and The Reformation World, edited by Andrew Pettegree.

To my mind, Pettegree is better in almost every single respect. It's easier to read, it's at a higher academic level (the people writing each chapter are experts in their field and the chapters are helpful summaries of the field; MacCulloch is an expert on England in the 1500s) and Pettegree is generally better reading for academia, for revision (my current concern) or for pleasure. Don't get me wrong - MacCulloch is a superb lecturer, and his book is a good overview of the European Reformation - it's just that Pettegree's book is better.

Except in one aspect - price. On Amazon.co.uk, MacCulloch's book is currently £25.60 in hardback or £8.99 in paperback. Pettegree is an astonishing £142.50 in hardback or £29.99 in paperback. Why the difference? I can only assume that the publishers are aiming one at the academic library market and the other at the popular market. But I can't see any reason for it.

I bought MacCulloch's book, but I keep getting Pettegree's out of the library.

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