Read 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 Online


A revolutionary look at Martin Luther, the Reformation, and the birth of publishing, on the eve of the Reformation’s 500th anniversaryWhen 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 yeaA revolutionary look at Martin Luther, the Reformation, and the birth of publishing, on the eve of the Reformation’s 500th anniversaryWhen 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....

Title : 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
Author :
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ISBN : 9781594204968
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 400 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

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 Reviews

  • Jordan
    2019-01-29 20:40

    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.

  • David Steele
    2019-02-12 14:45

    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!

  • Mary
    2019-02-08 15:33

    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.

  • Nancy
    2019-02-09 22:52

    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 bookPettegree 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 CranachI received a free ebook from the publisher in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

  • Gunter Nitsch
    2019-01-24 20:28

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

  • Jb
    2019-02-21 15:46

    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.

  • Jeremiah Gumm
    2019-02-10 14:45

    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.

  • Jane
    2019-02-05 16:36

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

  • Oskars Kaulēns
    2019-02-22 16:47

    izsmeļošs vēsturisks ieskats reformācijā un norisēs, kas 16. gadsimtā Mārtiņu Luteru padarīja par zvaigzni ne tikai reliģiskajās, bet arī publicistikas debesīs. meistarīgs savijums starp reformācijas norisi un idejām un to, kā attīstījās vietējā izdevējdarbība, pateicoties Lutera publikācijām un aicinājumiem apšaubīt Katoļu baznīcas pieņemto kārtību.

  • David
    2019-01-27 18:42

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

  • Monical
    2019-02-05 15:32

    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.

  • Michelle Kidwell
    2019-02-22 22:26

    Brand LutherHow an Unheralded Monk Turned His Small Town into a Center of Publishing, Made Himself the Most Famous Man in Europe--and Started the Protestant Reformationby Andrew PettegreePENGUIN GROUP The Penguin PressPenguin PressChristianPub Date Oct 27, 2015In 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 starsHappy Reading and Merry Christmas

  • Cindy
    2019-01-24 15:50

    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.

  • Richard
    2019-01-30 20:27

    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.

  • Sam Johnson
    2019-02-02 20:32

    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.

  • DonkeyPopsicle
    2019-01-28 18:38

    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.

  • Scott
    2019-01-29 20:33

    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.

  • Christopher Taylor
    2019-01-29 21:45

    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.

  • Micah Lugg
    2019-02-11 20:43

    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.

  • Geo Forman
    2019-02-10 22:46

    More than satisfied my curiosity about Luther. He was a master at getting his message out at the dawn of the age of the printing press. Prior to Luther's revolt against the Catholic Church and it's practice of indulgences, the printing press was less than 100 years old and primarily used for the Bible, ancient texts by dead authors and scholarly works mostly in Latin. Luther turned the printing industry on its head by using the vernacular to promote his ideas, which lead to great popularity and unheard of sales for the printers/publishers. Luther recognized this powerful tool and was heavily engaged in the printing process to ensure accuracy and promotion of his work

  • William
    2019-02-02 16:50

    Excellent, Informative and Very ReadableThis is a well researched and very readable history of Luther’s influence on publishing. The “Luther Brand” set the standard for the publishing industry that would develop from his earliest writings. This work filled in many of the blanks of omissions from other works. It is a must read for an explanation of the importance of Luther to the development of the printing and publishing industry as well as their importance to the spread of Luther’s theology. This could well be a supplemental reading to a law school course on anti-trust law.

  • Hank Pharis
    2019-02-11 21:32

    Printing was about 80 years old when Luther came along and hardly anyone made a significant amount of money from it. Many printers gave up because of their lack of income.But Martin Luther changed all of that. Luther was not paid for any of his works. But he tried to oversee their quality as much as possible. And he made several printers wealthy. By some estimates Luther sold over 2 million works.

  • Gertjan de Boer
    2019-01-26 22:46

    Ge-wel-dig boek. Het is lang geleden dat ik zo genoten heb van een informatief boek. Andrew Pettegree schrijft aantrekkelijk met veel anekdotes, verhalen en feiten. Het knappe is dat de enorme presentatie van kennis in dit boek het niet lastig leesbaar maakt. Integendeel: ik las er heel vlot doorheen, en kon zijn betoog altijd goed volgen.Wat de auteur vooral probeert te benadrukken is dat Luther ongelofelijk slim was. Echt slim, niet alleen intellectueel. Hij wist - in een tijd waarin de boekdrukkunst nog heel nieuw was - met pamfletten en boeken in de volkstaal een ware revolutie te veroorzaken. (Ik vind dit te vergelijken met de hedendaagse bedrijven die de kansen van het internet benutten; Facebook, Apple, AirBnB.) Terwijl hij zijn boodschap simpel aan de Duitsers wist te presenteren ging hij ook - in het Latijn - de strijd aan met de intellectuelen van de katholieke kerk.Synchroon aan dit betoog vertelt Pettegree de hele levensgeschiedenis van Luther. Over zijn jonge jaren, zijn tijd als priester, zijn eerste commentaren en tot slot de periode waarin Luther alle bruggen achter zich verbrand en vol overtuiging de reformatie gaat leiden. Ook zijn persoonlijke leven met zijn latere vrouw en kinderen komen nog aan bood.Enorme aanrader!

  • Ryan
    2019-01-29 17:37

    This was a fantastic book about Martin Luther and the printing press. Essentially, Pettegree shows how the printing press made Martin Luther, and yet Luther also shaped the printing press. It was an interesting time in history where the religious landscape was being challenged, and yet it spread so rapidly and so far reaching because of the printed page in the vernacular of the people. Wonderful book.

  • Yeongbae Kim
    2019-02-08 15:45

    This is a great narrative of the Reformation movement. It was great to learn different aspects of the movement, such as the printing business, in addition to Luther himself. Even though the book is not entirely about the Reformation, I found that reading about it through other prisms makes it more accessible. I recommend the book.

  • Daniel Richardson
    2019-02-21 14:35

    This book a biography with a particular slant - namely, Martin Luther's effect on the publishing industry and on Wittenberg during the Reformation. I definitely know more about this topic now, and the book was interesting.

  • Ryan
    2019-01-31 15:26

    A very good book on Luther and the Reformation under the perspective of the history of the printing press. It is commendable to bring into attention the context of Luther's writings and its effects to society especially in the trade of books. Highly recommended!

  • Julie Newton
    2019-01-31 17:45

    Well-written and well-researched. I enjoyed this new perspective on Luther, as it does discuss in detail the Reformation, but also more specifically his making of an industry and his impact on Germany as a market mover.

  • Jordan McKinley
    2019-02-23 14:42

    This was a very engaging Luther biography that has sparked some interest in a project I'd like to work on. Pettegree misses some more nuanced Lutheran historical bits, but does a good job overall of setting his research into Luther's life and legacy.

  • Matt Pitts
    2019-01-25 17:44

    A fascinating look at Luther's life through a fresh lens: the print industry.