I found this book to be an engaging and interesting overview of events that constitute the roots of today's protestant "church". It provided me with a framework from which much "church" history can be understood. It includes Apostle Paul, papal history, Anabaptists and relationships between protestant denominations. Although lightweight in many areas, it covers a wide range of church history, which makes it very readable. Many topics may not go into as much depth as you like but there is enough to identify interest. This lack of depth is what makes the book so readable, never becoming bogged down in uninteresting topics, it keeps moving while providing stepping stones for additional reading.What I did not like about the book is its tendency to deviate from a mostly chronological presentation. I found this was particularly annoying in the first several chapters. Later, I got use to it. There are "Protestant Pearls" (quotes) thrown throughout the book. Literally, they seem to have been thrown, having no relationship to the text. I think they should have been presented in the context of the relevant text. I would liken it to getting blips within a documentary movie have no bearing on the current scene. I found them distracting, breaking the flow so to speak. I adjusted by reading the "pearls" separately or when reviewing previously read text.
If you liked Complete Idiot's Guide to The Bible, then you'll like this one. I've known Jim Bell from his well-known Christian books, so I'm glad to see the Idiot's people have picked up one of the best for their religion books. He really breaks down what Protestants believe and why in an easy to understand way that doesn't make you feel stupid. I'm going to use this in my Bible class over the summer.
Overall, this book provides an excellent introduction to the history of Christianity in general and the Protestant Reformation in particular. The first 20 chapters that cover the period from the dawn of Christiantiy through 19-th century Europe are written extraordinarily well. I thorougly enjoyed reading this portion of the book. Unfortunately, the style and quality of the book change abruptly beginning with Chapter 21 through to the end - and the change is definitely for the worse. That portion of the book covers the impact of the Protestant Reformation on North America. Since there are two authors, it appears to me that the work was divvied up between them, with one of them writing the bulk of the book and the other writing the last few chapters. Unfortunately, the editor has done a very poor job of ensuring a consistent style and quality throughout. In summary: I highly recommend the first 20 chapters, but if you are particularly interested in reading about the impact of Protestantism on America, don't be surprised if you are disappointed.
This is a wonderful book which explains the development of Christianity from the death of Jesus, right up to the present time. I expected to mainly find Martin Luther expounded upon, but have learned from this book that he was only one of many many reformers. An excellent source of information , written with a touch of humor and much spiritual insight and depth of explaination.
I am not certain that this is the "best" book on the Reformation, but I am sure that it holds a wealth of wisdom. I did not read it from beginning to ending (it really didn't seem to follow an order that worked doing it that way), but rather have kept it in my library to use as a resource when looking up specific topics.
At the same time, the early history of the church itself can be very helpful for someone who doesn't know a lot about this area, and who might need a complete course. If so, this lighthearted (at times) can give good insight into the way the church grew into the way it is today.
A quick caution if you use it more as a reference book. Terms are defined the first time they are used, and so words like "diet" and "bull" might be confusing. Sadly, the book does not include a glossary, so you are on your own in this area.