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Perez Zagorin. How the Idea of Religious Toleration Came to the West.
Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2003. xviii + 372 pp. index. illus. $29.95. ISBN: 0-691-09270-2.
As descendants of the Enlightenment tradition, historians have long been interested in the development of toleration, one of modernity's most cherished principles. The exploration of such an idea, however, is fraught with some difficulty, primarily when the "rise of toleration" is treated whiggishly, rendering premodern patterns of thought negatively, as "intolerant." Recent investigations have nevertheless taken up the idea of toleration's development, following the seminal efforts of W.K. Jordan and Joseph Lecler in the early to mid-twentieth century; what may distinguish today's historians of the subject from those of the past has been the exploration of persecution and intolerance by such (controversial) historians as R.I. Moore. If the past constituted a persecuting or religiously uniform society, then some …