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Heretic: A Novel (Library of American Fiction) Paperback – March 24, 2003


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Product Details

  • Series: Library of American Fiction
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press; 1 edition (March 24, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0299187942
  • ISBN-13: 978-0299187941
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,614,003 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"The Heretic humanizes the tragic history of religious persecution." - Alan Dershowitz; "Don't start reading The Heretic unless you're prepared to put everything else aside.... Powerful, riveting, and inspiring... a must read." - David A. Harris, American Jewish Committee; "The Heretic is deeply absorbing, but it also helps Jews and Christians better understand their complex and often painful relationship." - Elie Wiesel; "A first rate job of recreating the complex tragedy and drama of Jewish life in fifteenth-century Spain." - Jane S. Gerber, Institute for Sephardic Studies, City University of New York

From the Publisher

The Heretic is an exciting, fast paced, multi-generational story of adventure and love.

Readers describe The Heretic as an "electrifying work" which they cannot put down. They cry with the characters' pain, they see even the most brutal of scenes as "portrayed with elegant sensitivity," and they anxiously await the sequel.

And The Heretic is much more ...

It is a serious, extensively researched work of historical fiction, dealing with the central issues of Christian anti-Judaism. It has been well received by Catholic and Jewish leaders, and by scholars of the period.

In 1391, and again in 1412, crusading Dominican priests swept through Seville. Their message to Jews was clear: accept baptism, or die!

Gabriel Catalan's father yielded to this cruel ultimatum when he was just a youth of 18, giving up his Jewish religion and living out his life as a Christian. But it did not save him.

In The Heretic's startling opening scene (see excerpt below), long-simmering animosity toward Seville's converted Jews explodes into violence, and a rioting mob stabs, clubs and stomps Gabriel's father to his death. Too late to save his father's life, Gabriel Catalan honors his father's memory by silently embracing the religion his father had been forced to renounce. He becomes one of Spain's secret Jews, involving his entire family in a clandestine life of extreme danger.

Early in the story, Gabriel, a goldsmith by trade, watches the German printer Johann Gutenberg demonstrate his remarkable new printing method. Against the opposition of his wife Pilar, he agrees to take on a perilous new mission. He and his son Tomas will print copies of rare Hebrew manuscripts and holy books, in hopes of preserving the precious texts before they are destroyed and lost forever in the fires of fanatical monks.

Tomas Catalan, Gabriel's daring son, enthusiastically embraces Judaism and printing, remarkably becomes a friend of both princess Isabel and the Moorish prince Hasan, and falls in love with the beautiful Jewess Esther Ardit. The young couple struggles to build their forbidden love amidst impossibly frenzied and restrictive conditions.

Gabriel rises in power and wealth, becomes a confidant of the strange King Enrique and then helps Enrique's half-sister Isabel marry Fernando and claim the crown of a united Spain. His position, however, is never secure, and he is hunted and haunted by Friar Ricardo Perez, a Dominican monk sent to Seville to unearth secret Jews, so that they can be burned alive at the stake. Gabriel Catalan is his primary target.

The Heretic contains intriguing portraits of real historical figures -- the printer Gutenberg, the Moorish Prince Hasan, Enrique, Isabel and Fernando, and the cruel monk Tomas Torquemada. Weinstein's research is impressive - he brings to life the chaos and promise of 15th century Spain. His writing is described as cinematic in its portrayal of action sequences and the intriguing background of Jewish-Christian-Moorish Andalusia.

In some of its most compelling moments, The Heretic brings readers face-to-face with the horrible truth about how the teachings of the Catholic Church were used to justify the torture and murder of Jews. Weinstein traces these teachings from their origins in scripture and holy writings, through the laws of the Roman empire and Visigoth Spain, to the unimaginable blood libels of medieval Europe. He leaves readers faced with the inevitable conclusion that these teachings, repeated purposely and relentlessly until very recent times, created the climate within which the Nazis could pursue their agenda of extermination.

Jewish leaders say that The Heretic describes a chapter in Jewish history that every knowledgeable Jew should understand. Catholic leaders say that The Heretic presents a part of the Church's history that we would rather not face, but which we must confront honestly if we are to be liberated by the truth and reminded by it to challenge hatred and intolerance in our present time.

Mr. Weinstein has spoken frequently about The Heretic and the issues of Christian anti-Judaism which it raises, and he is interested in scheduling additional appearances. He can be reached by email at lmw@phri.org. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


More About the Author

I became an author during the latter part of a long career in management, finally taking my high school English teacher's advice that I should write. My first novel was published when I was 60. Since I retired and became a full-time author in 2005, three more novels have been published.

GOODREADS & FACEBOOK ... I am an active participant on Goodreads and Facebook, and I welcome your friendship on either or both.

PUBLISHED NOVELS ... The Heretic (2000); A Good Conviction (2007); Case Closed (2009); The Pope's Conspiracy (2012)

SPANISH EDITION ... The Heretic was published in Spanish (2012) under the title "Hereje."

CURRENT PROJECT ... I'm working on a novel set in 20th century Germany and Poland.

EDUCATION ... Princeton University (BSE) and Harvard Business School (MBA)

MANAGEMENT CAREER ... from 1991-2005, I was the CEO of The Public Health Research Institute, a biomedical research organization focused on infectious diseases; previously President of Kinney System, the nationwide parking company; Township Manager of Cherry Hill, NJ; and a candidate for U.S. Congress (1980).

PERSONAL ... I'm married; my wife and I live in Key West in the winter and Collioure, France in the summer. We travel extensively (see our travel blog at www.patandlewtravel.wordpress.com). Between us, we have 6 children and 7 grandchildren.

Customer Reviews

The story is gripping and well paced, with tension and drama building up to the moving climax.
George Collins
I would assume that most people who consider reading THE HERETIC are familiar with the details of that tragic period of Jewish and Catholic history.
Judie Amsel
The Heretic illuminates a mysterious time in history and does so with a compelling, page-turning plot and well developed characters.
S. Negley

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 22, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Set against the Spanish Inquisition of the 15th Century, "The Heretic" provided for me an exciting way to learn about a period of history of which I knew very little. The novel is filled with ingredients that drew me into the book. Not only a portrayal of the persecution of the Jews at the hands of the Catholic Church, "The Heretic" is primarily a story that humanizes the tradgedies endured during that period. Filled with intrigue, suspense and romance the struggle for one's faith against great odds makes "The Heretic" a great read!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Harry A. Cooke on March 6, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Just finished Lew Weinstein's book - The Heretic. I was very touched by the characters - they truly came alive. It held my attention throughout the book. It also filled me with a greater understanding of Judaism and enlightened me as to the dominance of Catholicism over Judaism during this period. It was well written and the research for this book left nothing to be desired. Congratulations to Lewis Weinstein on The Heretic.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Holly M. on February 24, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Reading "The Heretic" was a truly revealing experience for me. For many years I've grqppled with the problem of why Jews have been singled out for persecution by so many different peoples at different times and at different places throughout history. "The Heretic" explained the roots of anti-Semitism more clearly than anything I have ever read.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 7, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Aside from the fact that the book is well written; Aside from the fact that the author did an extraordinary amount of research; Aside from the fact that you can learn so much history from this book; the story took on a life of such realism. You felt involved with every character. I recommend this book for every religion and denomination. There is so much to learn from the past. I hope Steven Speilberg reads this book and makes a movie.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Rosmarie Van Doren on December 6, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This is an excellent book. It is captivating from beginning to end, I couldn't put it down. Being a Christian this book really stirred me up but I feel that it will generate more questions than answers. It's a must read for Christians and Jews who don't fear a dialog centered at the very roots of pain.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By George Collins on September 30, 2009
Format: Paperback
I enjoyed "The Heretic" very much. I've read pretty widely in general as well as religious history, so I was aware of the events of the pre-Inquisition and Inquisition era in Spain, but Lewis Weinstein's book brought these historical abstractions to life by personalizing them in authentic, believable characters in realistic settings dealing with a rapidly changing and frightening world. The story is gripping and well paced, with tension and drama building up to the moving climax. The richness of historical detail is impressive (obviously reflecting a tremendous amount of research), yet it seems natural and successfully brings the characters and settings vividly to life. The overall effect is quite cinematic, and I believe "The Heretic" would make an excellent movie. This novel works well on a number of levels and pulls together complex and important themes (e.g., religious persecution and intolerance, love of God and family, the importance of history and tradition) in a way that is engaging and very enjoyable to read. I am looking forward to the sequel.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By S. Negley on May 28, 2009
Format: Paperback
The Heretic illuminates a mysterious time in history and does so with a compelling, page-turning plot and well developed characters. Most impactful to me was the understanding and insight I gained into the lives of Jews, both present day and those who suffered horribly at the hands and whims of the Catholic church and the unspeakable cruelty of those who did its bidding. You'll come away with greater insight into present day Jews who carry with them the sorrow and scars of the injustices suffered then and many times since. This book is being passed from hand to hand among my friends and acquaintances, both Jewish and Catholic, all of whom sing its praises and just keep passing it on to others. Everyone should read this book. It is not only a enlightening journey but its exciting story is so well written and researched it will keep you awake into the wee hours. Don't miss it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By E. Blakeley on May 22, 2009
Format: Paperback
Purchased this book when mentioned in a Rick Steve's guidebook for Andalusia in advance of a recent two week trip to the area. Didn't get it read prior, but when I did I was pleased to read about all the places we had just visited: Seville, Cordoba, Italica, Carmona, Granada, Arcos, Malaga, and more. He is a good storyteller although the plot is at times a bit predictable and melodramatic. The strength is the depth of the characters who the reader can identify with and picture the internal conflicts. Being an amateur historian, was already familiar with the Spanish Inquisition and the plight of the Sephardic Jews. Depiction was reproachful yet not overdone and consistent with my prior reading. Overall a nice tale of personal introspection and family ties.
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