Books by Peter Stanford



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Martin Luther: Catholic Dissident

Published in London by Hodder & Stoughton in hardback and on Kindle in March 2017 (ISBN 9781473621664).

On the 500th anniversary of the 95 Theses, an account of Martin Luther - the man, the myth and the mass movement that his act of rebellion against the Church of Rome provoked. An intimate portrait, drawing extensively on Luther's own remarkable voice, it explores this complex, charismatic man of God and confronts those darker sides of him that have distanced him from contemporary audiences. 

"Peter Stanford has written a compelling biography of one of the greatest men of the modern age. He is particularly brilliant on the tensions inside Luther's private and spiritual life. This is a very fine biography, written with a flourish." Melvyn Bragg

"Stanford conveys brilliantly to an atheist like me the nature of the internal battle Luther underwent...What makes this work so valuable is the writer's belief that religion is important, and that the relationship of the believer to God requires explanation. I wonder whether an atheist like me would have been half so effective a communicator of Luther's true importance." David Aaronovitch: The Times

"Peter Stanford makes the life of Luther into a thrilling narrative, told from the perspective of the modern Catholic." Antonia Fraser 

"Peter Stanford's biography skilfully guides readers through the events of Luther's life and highlights the enormous courage he showed in confronting the power of the pope and the Church...This is a compelling, well-written account." Nick Rennison: Sunday Times

"readable, tolerant, intelligent...Stanford humanises the 'little monk' once seen as a man full of flaws, but whose courage in standing almost alone against clerical abuse and corruption changed the course of history" Nigel Jones: The Observer

"cleverly structured and beautifully written, sparkling with insight and generosity..." Roger Bolton

"an honest but sympathetic portrait of a profoundly complicated and at times contradictory individual, seen in the heated context of his times...Stanford has managed a rare thing: an easy, pleasurable read through difficult concepts and hard choices." Jenny McCartney: Mail on Sunday 

"There is a great freshness and clarity here. By entering this complex history through personality as well as dogma, I found myself learning a great deal without ever feeling 'taught'." Sarah Dunant

'Stanford has developed a reputation as a first-class biographer...[he] skilfully traces the course of the Reformation [and] has also gone to great lengths to make Luther's theology accessible. The core part of that theology, he argues rather convincingly, is as relevant today as ever...If you think this is a religious book for religious people, you'd be wrong." Michael Kelly: Irish Independent

"...a beautifully judged mixture of the personal, the political and the historical that renders Luther human and admirably accessible. Stanford exhibits exactly the evenhandedness that Luther himself lacked." Michael Arditti

"It would be easy to see him as a fanatic but this thoughtful new biography enhances the view that Luther stumbled onto his own Reformation and never intended to create a new form of Christianity. Indeed, Stanford even credits him with the development of liberty, human rights and secularism." Noel Malcolm: Daily Telegraph

"a terrific read" Richard Holloway: BBC Radio Scotland

"Spirited...compelling...first rate. Stanford works hard to capture the inner Luther [and] does an excellent job of tracing how matters spiralled out of control. The drama of the various confrontations and debates is wonderfully portrayed, especially the showdown at Leipzig in 1519 when Johann Eck showed himself expert at goading Luther." Jonathan Wright: Catholic Herald

"Peter Stanford has a gift for taking theological complexity and running with it. An excellent story-teller with a grasp of the oddities of human judgement, he shows how exciting the intersection of history, culture and theology can be. And he does it with a lightness of touch that makes difficult things clear." Piers Plowright: Camden New Journal 



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Judas: The Troubling History of the Renegade Apostle

Published in London by Hodder and Stoughton in hardback in April 2015 (ISBN 9781444754726) and in paperback March 2016 (ISBN 9781444754711).  Also available in Kindle. US edition from Counterpoint ISBN 978161902-7091, in French (Fayard) ISBN 9782213693996, and in Dutch (De Bezige Bij) 9789023496519. Russian (Eksmo), Polish (Jagiellonian University Press) and Korean (Miraebook) editions are in preparation.

Ultimate traitor or ultimate scapegoat?  This historical, theological and cultural portrait of the apostle who betrayed Jesus with a kiss explores how the very name Judas has become synonymous with human evil. But is he the victim of a terrible miscarriage of justice?  As Bob Dylan once put it in one of his songs, 'you'll have to decide whether Judas Iscariot had God on his side'

"Books of the Year" selection for 2015 in both the Independent and Scotland's Sunday Herald.

'a cracking piece of writing that posits such a great idea - a pilgrimage to Judas': Frank Cottrell Boyce

'Stanford is a cool, witty guide. There is no better navigator through the space in which art, culture and spirituality meet. His biography of the Devil is a masterpiece. This is an easier book, written in a friendlier style, but the research is just as thorough': Cole Moreton in the Independent on Sunday

'it's great. He's a beautiful writer': Jon Ronson

'Stanford says a lot about the many faces and other attributes of Judas, and does so very engagingly; his book manages to be fun as well as sometimes profound, and it is as much an enjoyable tour of Christian art and thought as an account of a 2000-year-old traitor': Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch in The Times

'it is a delight to follow Stanford on his unique journey - a fascinating cultural and historical biography': Nick Major in The National

"l'auteur nous propose le meilleur cru du reportage biblique": Le Monde

'a fascinating story of febrile myth-making over two millennia': Justin Cartwright in the Spectator

'magnificent...this book does several things at once: it's a study in biography, intellectual history and iconography; a personal pilgrimage to the places where the tragedy of Judas took place; and a meditation on his meaning for our time. It does all these things with a generosity of spirit that lends nobility to what could otherwise be a tale of unremitting woe': Daniel Johnson in Standpoint

'fascinating from start to finish...a richly detailed portrait [that] neatly debunks the idea of Judas Iscariot as the most evil man who ever lived': Alexander Larman in the Observer

And from the US

'Light-hearted in tone, anecdotal in style, Peter Stanford's narrative introduces the reader to profound themes. How does the human imagination depict evil, despair and repentance? He take sus through some of the drakest moments of human history, including the Holocuast, revealing our chronic addioction to creating scapegoats to carry the weight of our own failure and betrayal. From a very early point in Christian history, Christians celebrated the "happy fault" of Adam, because it led to redemption.  Stanford asks us to consider if this should also be said of Judas': Karen Armstrong

'Stanford writes with fluency and intelligence: his text is enlivened by alphabetical pullouts featuring smaller cultural oddities and traditions surrounding Judas': Library Journal

'a straightforward biogaphy that thankfully avoids preaching. Readers curious about Judas' broad effect on world history will welcome this book': Kirkus Review



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How To Read A Graveyard: Journeys In The Company of the Dead

Published in London by Bloomsbury in 2013. Hardback ISBN 978144117977. Paperback ISBN 9781472909183

 

A personal, reflective but never gloomy journey round a dozen graveyards in Britain and Europe, tracing the history of how we have treated the dead, and what we have thought about death itself.  From a pagan necropolis in ancient Rome, through medieval English churchyards and the war graves of Northern France, and right up to date with a modern eco-cemetery, this travelogue aims to answer every question you've ever had about burial customs. And to pose a few more about a contemporary society that likes to imagine itself immortal.

'...stuffed full of fascination...on every page there is an alarming, amusing or diverting piece of information about the burial of the dead' : Craig Brown's Book of the Week, Mail on Sunday

'...it seems slightly peculiar to describe a book about graveyards as charming, but that's exactly what Peter Stanford's meditative travelogue is...': Stuart Kelly, Scotland on Sunday

'...this is a gentle, timely polemic against the marginalisation of graveyards as a symbol of our sense of existence, memory and the passage of time...you'll find How To Read a Graveyard dead marvellous...': Jay Merrick, The Independent

'...diversity is deftly woven into a meaningful whole [and] erudition mixes with emotions as the author's journeys lead him to consider his own life and death, his family, and the world around him in a new light...': Michael Caines, Wall Street Journal

 '...there is a haunting beauty to be found in many graveyards and Stanford is adept at reading their dialogue between the living and the dead..' : Josh Glancy, Sunday Times

'...original, engaging...how different civilisations have dealt with their dead...': Harry Mount, Literary Review

'...what distinguishes Stanford's account from more factual graveyard guides is its subjectivity: this is a history of burial traditions that interleaves frankly with its author's own concerns about dying...': Thomas Marks: Daily Telegraph 

'...Stanford's new book might lead you to suppose you're in for a gloomy read. And luckily, you'd be wrong. His aim is not to terrify his readers with death, but to find answers to the kind of questions often implicit in death...': Theo Walden: The Lady



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The Death of A Child

Published in London and New York by Continuum in June 2011.  Hardback ISBN 9781441183033. Paperback 9781408192085. Also available in Kindle format. 


A collection of 12 essays, edited by Peter Stanford, with an afterword by Dorothy Rowe, and written by the parents and siblings of children who have died.  By reliving their experiences and describing their grief, they hope to help others in the same situation, as well as their family and friends.

'the collection provides our pain-denying culture with a new map of mourning' : TLS

''a painful but necessary book': Catholic Herald

It is a brilliant book on a potentially harrowing topic...it will undoubtedly meet a great need, thanks to the honesty, sensitivity and courage of the contributors who dare to write about such intimate pain: Jenny Francis in the Church Times

 

'I am loathe to pick one story out from among the others for fear of seeming to denigrate others. All are written with deep love and recognition that life will never be the same again': the goodbookstall.org.uk

 



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50 Religious Ideas You Really Need To Know

Published in London by Quercus in May 2010 and in New York by Chartwell in June 2010. ISBN 9781848660595  Separate editions in Dutch, French, German, Italian and Spanish have all subsequently appeared.


At a time when religion stands accused of dividing the world and causing conflict, an everyman's overview of the great faiths, how they evolved, their key beliefs, what they have in common with each other, what separates them, and how they relate to the modern world.

 

'Nifty and not too preachy' : The Sowetan (South Africa)

'Remarkably succinct, informative and insightful for such a brief compendium of ideas. It is something I will refer my students to on many occasions':  Letter from a senior school RE teacher in Australia



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The Extra Mile: A Twenty First Century Pilgrimage

Published in London and New York by Continuum in March 2010. Hardback ISBN 9780826434043  Paperback 9781441167354. Also available on Kindle

A modern-day pilgrimage round eight of Britain's ancient religious sites, taking the spiritual temperature of our apparently secular and sceptical age.

 

'While Stanford takes quiet pleasure in unpicking woolly thinking, he writes movingly about the pull of the past, recognising that in hard times, the path of enlightenment becomes an appealing road-trip.' Victoria Segal: The Guardian

 

'Stanford's delightful book is more an encounter with pilgrims than with Christ and his saints...these frequently difficult travels tell one more about today's religious faith than many a church report...It is a pleasure to tramp along beside him.'  Ronald Blythe: Church Times

 

'a highly illuminating study...his selection may be domestic but it is by no means parochial...Particularly welcome is his ability to laugh at himself.' Michael Arditti: The Independent




 



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The Life of Christ

Published in New York by Quercus in October 2009 Only available at present through Borders bookshops in the United States.

A large format biography of Jesus Christ, told both in words and pictures, with sumptuous colour illustrations of over 100 of the author's favourite paintings and artworks.  With a foreword by the distinguished British historian of religion, Karen Armstrong.




C Day-Lewis: A Life

Published in London and New York by Continuum in May 2007. ISBN: UK hardback 978-0-8264-8603-5  Now also available in e-book format

The first authorized account of the life of the Anglo-Irish Poet Laureate, C Day-Lewis (1904-1972) who, along with WH Auden and Stephen Spender, is best remembered as one of the 'Poets of the Thirties'.
 'shrewd, conscientious...Stanford is careful not to sound censorious. His book is all the better for this. It allows us to see Day-Lewis's charm as well as his calculation.' Andrew Motion, Poet Laureate, in choosing the book as Guardian Book of the Week 
'Peter Stanford's biography has achieved something that few such examinations are able to do: a scrupulous, modulated fair-mindedness. I think somehow that it begins with good will and Stanford's appreciation of my father's work provides the bedrock on which he builds. His scholarship, which is impeccable, is worn lightly and he, author, remains resolutely at the service of his subject. This rare quality of modesty allows the work to sperak for itself. He casts light on my father's poetry through sensitive understanding of his experience - a strikingly unmodern balance between the private life and the creative force that blossomed out of it. I like that best of all: that the work is placed, and remains firmly, at the centre. Knowing Peter a little bit, none of this surprises me. And yet one is left with a sense of genuine gratitude. Though it is no doubt hard for a son ever to assess the life of his own father, with Peter's help I feel I have been led some considerable way, encountering many delightful surprises en route, down the path that might allow me to do so'   Daniel Day-Lewis January 18, 2008


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The Outcasts Outcast: A Biography of Lord Longford

Published in Stroud by Sutton in June 2003 ISBN: UK hardback 0-7509-3248-1 UK paperback 0-7509-4497-

Revised edition of my 1994 biography, completed after the death of the seventh Earl of Longford (1904-2001), and using for the first time diaries and papers kept by his wife, Elizabeth Longford. It was used by scriptwriter Peter Morgan for his award-winning 2006 film, Longford, shown on Channel 4, starring Jim Broadbent in the title role.
'well-judged and sympathetic but not sycophantic': PD James Mail on Sunday 
'an alluring account of a unique figure' The Spectator


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Heaven: A Travellers Guide to the Undiscovered Country

Published in London by HarperCollins in April 2002 and in New York by Palgrave Macmillan in February 2004. Separate Russian language edition. ISBN:UK hardback 0-00-257101; UK paperback 0-00-653157-1; US hardback 1-4039-6360-6 Now also available in e-book format.

A personal journey, prompted by the death of his mother, through history and across religions, in the company of scientists, philosophers, bishops, artists, writers, theologians and atheists, in order to discover the place people have called heaven. Stopping off en route at various heavens on earth, it asks if heaven is a man-made put-up job to make death more palatable, or the ultimate promise?
'Stanford's best book to date: chatty, opinionated and learned. Although it records the slow marginalisation of a powerful idea, it is not an obituary'. Mail on Sunday 
'witty, engaging and inclusive' Karen Armstrong


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Bronwen Astor: Her Life and Times

Published in London by HarperCollins in May 2000
ISBN: UK hardback 0-00-255839-4; UK paperback 0-00-638859-0 It has been out of print for a while but in August 2012 became available as an e-book
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The story of Bronwen Pugh, the most famous model of her generation, who in 1960 married Lord Astor and became chatelaine of Cliveden. Three years later she was embroiled in the Profumo affair, the sixties sex and spying scandal that hastened her husband’s death. With unprecedented access to her private papers, it tells of the religious faith that remains the bedrock of Astor’s life.
‘well-written, conscientious and thorough…shows a good sense of place and period, convincingly recreating the post-war fashion world, the social scene at Cliveden, the London of the 1950s and 1960s, as well as the bickering and barminess of Bronwen’s eccentric Christian communities’ Selina Hastings: Times Literary Supplement
 



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The She Pope: A Quest for the Truth Behind The Mystery of Pope Joan

Published in London by Heinemann in April 1998 and in New York as The Legend of Pope Joan by Henry Holt in October 1998. Separate German (Rutten & Loening and Aufbau Taschenbuch Verlag), Brazilian (Gryphus), Czech (Nakladatelstvi Svoboda) and Croatian editions. ISBN: UK hardback 0-434-02458-9; UK paperback 0-7493-2067-2; US hardback 0-8050-3910-4; US paperback (Berkley) 0-425-17347-X.  Still in print in the UK and also available as an e-book

Investigating the legend of Pope Joan - the English woman who, dressed as a man, allegedly headed the Catholic Church in the middle of the ninth century. Did she really fool the authorities and rise to the top of the all-male clerical hierarchy of Catholicism, or is her story folklore, based on an obviously impossible scenario? The book was the basis for a BBC 1 Everyman documentary presented and produced by the author, shown in December 1998.
'A compelling account of one of the least-known stories in church history (that) unfolds like a good mystery yarn...thorough, intelligent and absorbing': Boston Globe 
'This is a most entertaining piece of detection and history which voyages bravely into heretical waters': Michele Roberts: Independent on Sunday


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The Devil: A Biography

Published in London by Heinemann in March 1996 and in New York in July 1996 by Henry Holt. Separate Italian (Piemme), German (Insel Verlag), Greek (Apxetyno), Brazilian (Gryphus) and Japanese editions. ISBN: UK hardback 0-434-00042-6; UK paperback 0-7493-1726-4; UK TV tie-in paperback 0-7493-2506-2; UK paperback re-issue (2003) 0-099-46556-6; US hardback 0-8050-3082-4; US audio book (Audio Renaissance) 1-55927-416-6. A Kindle edition is available (ASIN B004FV4XPS).

Tracing the development of the figure of the Devil, as the face of evil, across religions and down the ages up to the current day. Is there a universal need for a spirit of evil to explain away humanity's failings, or is Satan abroad in the world as exorcists and fundamentalists claim? The book was the basis for a BBC TV series, featuring the author, broadcast in March 1998
'a vivid, impish and tantalising work on the dark side' Melvyn Bragg: BBC Radio 4 


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The Catholics and Their Houses (co-authored with Leanda de Lisle)

Published in London by HarperCollins, April 1995 ISBN UK hardback 0-00-627924-4 
Illustrated account of the great Recusant houses of Britain where the Catholic faith was kept alive during the centuries of persecution that followed the Reformation



Lord Longford: An Authorised Life

Published in London by Heinemann in March 1994 ISBN: UK hardback 0-434-73516-7; UK paperback 0-7493-1377-
A biography of the seventh Earl of Longford (1904-2001), Anglo-Irish peer, convert to Catholicism, socialism and Irish nationalism, who served as a minister under Clement Attlee (1945-1951) and as a member of Harold Wilson's cabinet (1964-1968), but was best known for his lifelong crusade for prison reform, which culminated in his campaign to win parole for the Moors Murderess, Myra Hindley. 
'so well-balanced that it may be little to Longford's taste' Bevis Hillier: Spectator 
'affectionate and intelligent' Ben Pimlott: Guardian



Cardinal Hume and The Changing Face of English Catholicism

Published in London by Geoffrey Chapman in May 1993 ISBN: UK hardback 0-225-66658-8; UK paperback (Continuum) 0-225-66882-3 
An account of the leader of the English and Welsh Catholic Church between 1976 and 1999, first written to mark his 70th birthday, examining both the life of Basil Hume and the wider changes in the nature of the Catholic Church in Britain that he came to symbolize, namely its transformation from persecuted post-Reformation rump to integrated, accepted part of national life. 
'an absorbing and important analysis which should be essential reading for all intelligent Catholics. The style is breezy but the questions posed are hard-hitting and the commentary equally so' Antonia Fraser: Catholic Herald 


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Catholics and Sex (co-authored with Kate Saunders)

Published in London by Heinemann and Channel 4 in March 1992. Separate German (Goldmann Verlag) and Polish (Muza) editions. ISBN UK hardback 0-434-67246-7; UK paperback 0-7493-1031-6 
TV tie-in with Channel 4 series presented by the author and novelist Kate Saunders, examining the gap between the ideals of Catholic sexual teaching and the realities of many Catholics' lives, and the damage done to those who feel themselves to fall short of those ideals.
'what makes it compelling reading is the authors' palpable belief in their Church and their disgust that its strong teachings should be overshadowed by the sexual equivalent of angels on pinheads' Irish Times



Believing Bishops (co-authored with Simon Lee)

Published in London by Faber and Faber in March 1990) ISBN UK hardback 0-571-14191-9, UK paperback 0-571-14192-7 
Looking at the role of bishops in a secular society and the reactions of contemporary prelates to a range of theological, ethical and political issues of the day 
'bright and clearly well-informed': John Mortimer Sunday Times



Other Books by Peter Stanford

(edited) Why I am Still A Catholic (London and New York, Continuum, 2005: hardback 0-8264-8577-4, paperback 0?8264-9145-6) Collection of essays on their faith and their doubts by well-known Catholics, including Cherie Booth QC, Edward Stourton, Cristina Odone, Dermot O'Leary and Peter Stanford. 

Teach Yourself Catholicism (London, Hodder Education, 2008: paperback 978-0-340-96880-2) Published in the 70th anniversary year of the Teach Yourself books, a beginners' guide to Catholicism, covering its history, doctrines and past and present practice. With a foreword by Cherie Booth QC.

Catholicism - An Introduction (London, Hodder Education, 2010: paperback 978-144105124, Kindle BOO4KSRZT2) An updated edition of Teach Yourself Catholicism.

Opening Up: Speaking Out in The Church (London, Darton, Longman and Todd, 2006: paperback 0-232-52624-9) Co-edited with Julian Filochowski to mark the 60th birthday of Catholic campaigner, Martin Pendergast, a series of papers making the case for reform in the Catholic Church. 
 
(edited) Lord Longford's Prison Diary (Oxford, Lion, 2000: removed from sale) Diaries covering the period 1995 to 1999 and recording the various prisoners visited by penal reform campaigner, Lord Longford.
 
The Anatomy of The Catholic Church (Norwich, Michael Russell, 1994: 0-85955-203-9) New edition of earlier account by Gerard Noel, edited and revised by Peter Stanford, with a new essay added by him on the papacy of John Paul II.
 
(edited) The Seven Deadly Sins (London, Hodder and Stoughton, 1990: hardback 0-340-54154-7, paperback 0-340-53854-6). Collection of short stories, with illustrations by Clara Vulliamy, by writers including Rachel Billington, Morris West and HRF Keating. First appeared as a Lenten series in the Catholic Herald
 
(edited) Hidden Hands: Child Workers Around the World (London, Collins Fount, 1989: 0-00-627362-9) A collection of poems about child labourers in the third world, written by British eight to sixteen year olds as part of a Catholic Herald competition, organised to mark the silver jubilee of the development agency, Cafod,



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