One of my favorite periods of history to study is the Great Reformation. Recently I read Michael Reeves' survey of the period in his new book The Unquenchable Flame: Discovering the Heart of the Reformation. Of all of the survey books on this important era in our history, Reeves offers one of the best overviews. The book highlights the major events during the Reformation and those who shaped the history. The book focuses primarily on the Gemran, French, Swiss, English, and Scottish Reformation (along with the Anabaptist movements and a few smaller ones). Anyone, obviously, writing on the Reformation is forced to discuss these movements.
What I liked about the book is not only is it good, well-written, interesting history, but the writer manages to include some historical tidbits that even many Reformation history buffs may not have known. For example, the author highlights a number of leads that were significant in the shaping of Reformation thought and theology that I had never heard of and I pride myself on being aware of some men and movements like John Wycliffe, William Tyndale, John Huss, and others. I thought I was reading a simple survey, but what I read was a survey that was fitting for both those who are new to Reformation history and theology and those well aquinted with it.
My one "beef" with the book regards its limited discussion on the Scottish Reformation. Perhaps I am bias here. I love Luther (I really love Luther!), but I am always wanting to know more about the Scottish Reformation probably because I have an ancestor who was a collegue of Knox, was almost executed by the Pope for his Protestant belief, and helped shape the Protestant faith and ecclesialogy in Scotland (plus he was the personal chaplin to King James before his retirement). His name was John Craig.
The author doesn't dedicate as much space to the Scottish Reformation as I would have liked, but that doesn't mean that he barely discusses it. I particularly enjoyed his compare and contrast with the English Reformatio and the role that politics played in both.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone interested in better understanding the Reformation and why it was so important. Being a brief survey a lot of details are left out (I really noticed this in the survey of Luther's life), but the point of the book isn't to provide detail, but overview. It is books like this that are helpful resources for anytime one needs to remember major names and events in this period. If anyone is wanting to know more about the Reformation, look no further than Reeves.