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A Poisoned Chalice
Jeffrey Freedman

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"In addition to exploiting a good mystery's appeal to readers . . . Freedman crafts his story to address serious intellectual issues.... The book that results is both entertaining and intellectually stimulating--imagine, if you will, a Name of the Rose based on real sources."--Randolph C. Head, Central European History

"The story itself is a rollicking good one, filled with colorful characters. . . . The author's breezy prose keeps the story rolling along and his narrative choices preserve the mystery of a good whodunit. . . . Freedman's bold interpretation of the Enlightenment and his successful repositioning of arguments about radical evil to the center of debate are breathtaking achievements. They are also, in their implication, profoundly disturbing."--Mary Lindeman, Journal of Modern History


"Elegantly written and a delight to read, this book is certainly an example of microhistory at its best. It brings to life a strange, long-neglected incident in the history of Zurich and uses it to analyze the relationship between religion and the Enlightenment in the late eighteenth century."--Carlos Eire, Yale University

"This book has a significant role to play in introducing students and the interested public to the nature of the Enlightenment in German-speaking Europe and the new role played by publishing in the shaping of public opinion in late eighteenth century Europe. It is written in an informal style that, along with its brevity and drama, make the text highly readable."--David Kertzer, Brown University

"Jeffrey Freedman's elegant and erudite book works on several levels. A fascinating detective story about strange doings in Zurich in 1776, it follows the ripples caused by the affair of the poisoned chalice into the city where it took place, the media that made it a cause célèbre, and the highest circles of the German-speaking Enlightenment. This is a small masterpiece: the distilled essence of cultural history, brilliantly analyzed and presented."--Anthony Grafton, Princeton University, author of Cardano's Cosmos and The Footnote

"A Poisoned Chalice is a wicked blend of erudition and entertainment. Jeffrey Freedman's engrossing study of the legal and literary furor surrounding the apparent poisoning of the communion wine in eighteenth-century Zurich serves up a compelling account of crime, punishment, and publicity in the Age of Enlightenment. Following Freedman as he works his way skillfully from court records to scientific reports to literary journals, we learn how the police investigated and the press debated a crime that fascinated German-speaking Europe. Here's a story that has everything: religious skullduggery, social tensions, crusading publicists, and a colorful cast of characters. A Poisoned Chalice is heady stuff indeed."--James Schmidt, Boston University

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File created: 4/21/2017

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