Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

History Renaissance

Holy Terror

Galileo, the Inquisition, and the Modern World

Key Porter Books
Initial publish date
May 2010
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    May 2010
    List Price

Add it to your shelf

Where to buy it


No event marked the end of the Renaissance more dramatically than Galileo’s encounter with the Roman Inquisition. For almost 400 years the account of the greatest scientist of his time facing torture and imprisonment for declaring that the earth revolved around the sun has inspired debate and outrage. The power of the Vatican, it was claimed, had punished a man for daring to reveal the truth.
But the reality is more complex and absorbing than the myth.
In Holy Terror, bestselling author John Lawrence Reynolds applies extensive research and story-telling techniques to cast new light on this infamous episode. Focusing on the two lead players, he depicts Galileo and Pope Urban VIII as characters in a drama that is equal parts King Lear and Othello. As Cardinal Barberini, the future pope wrote fawning poetry to his beloved friend Galileo. But as Urban VIII, locked in a losing war, fearful of enemies and astrologers (he erased records of his birth and had birds in the Vatican gardens slaughtered lest their songs conceal signals from assassins) the Pope, convinced he was portrayed as a buffoon in Galileo’s masterwork, vowed to crush both the author and his reputation.
Holy Terror reads like a period novel of intrigue, betrayal, and redemption. In provocative style it leaps forward to explore disturbing parallels in our contemporary society, including the exploitation by authority figures of our deepest fears and beliefs—and the application of political power to stifle disturbing truth.
Written in the same entertaining narrative style employed by Reynolds in his international bestseller Shadow People, Holy Terror introduces fascinating new perspectives on one of history's most notorious events.
Praise for Shadow People: Inside History’s Most Notorious Secret Society:
The Da Vinci Code may have made secret societies trendy in fiction, but John Lawrence Reynolds unmasks them in reality. This book is a page-turner, with more twists and turns than Dan Brown’s novel. Find a safe corner where no one can look over your shoulder and dive into this compulsively readable exposé. As always, truth is stranger—and more powerful—than fiction, and Reynolds lays it all bare in the most fascinating way.” —Robert J. Sawyer, Hugo Award-winning author of Mindscan
“For those searching for an entertaining book (and Reynolds is a funny man with a delicious turn of phrase), this is a must-read. It is done with exceptional skill.” —The Globe and Mail
“Packed with playfully presented information.” —Publishers Weekly
“Fascinating reading. Reynolds draws back the veil to show what some secret societies…were and are really like. There’s much fascinating material in this book…[A] page-turning experience.” —Toronto Star