Readers should understand that this is not a historical novel, but a detailed narrative about Europe during a period of great religious, political, social and cultural upheaval. Tracing the lives of the Platter men, Thomas and his two sons, Felix and Thomas, Jr., the author reveals a society often overlooked by modern readers. While most historians deal with the political side only, LaDurie focuses on the religious turbulence that ultimately resulted in a new Europe. The fact that Thomas Platter, Sr., an illiterate peasant, was able to rise to a position of respected teacher and publisher, one who was a contemporary of Calvin, and published his Institutes, tells us much about the opportunities for social advancement during the period. Felix's experiences in southern France and his relationships with Spanish Jews sheds a great deal of light on another portion of "hidden history." The influence of the "New World" is also beginning to be felt across! the continent at this time. For any student of social geography or religious history, this book is an absolute treasure chest.