"The aim of this book is simply to recover the truth, or rather to reclaim the intelligibility, of a man in his time. This is a historian's Calvin, the work of a university professor who is neither a theologian nor an ordained minister. Cottret's welcome approach sheds new light on the great Reformer's personality by concentrating on the milieu in which Calvin did his life's work."
"In the largest part of the book, Cottret explores Calvin's life chronologically. We are introduced to the world into which Calvin was born, a Europe in the throes of upheaval owing to the development of the printing press and divergent religious views. We follow Calvin from his birth and childhood in Noyon to his school years in Paris. We accompany Calvin on his humanistic and literary pursuits in Basel, his early ministry in Geneva, and his halcyon Strasbourg years. Finally, we move again to Geneva, where the brunt of Calvin's serious - and better known - life was lived."
"Along the way we encounter the major issues of Calvin's day - the sacrifice of the Mass, iconoclasm, predestination, the Arianism of Michael Servetus - issues to which he reacted with all his religious emotion. We tarry with him in Geneva and get an up-close look at the governance of Calvinism's "holy city." Further, we share in Calvin's joys and sorrow through a reading of his prolific correspondence. In the final chapters, Cottret explores thematic aspects of Calvin's persona - Calvin the polemicist, the preacher, and the writer - and looks in greater depth at his foremost work, the Institutes of the Christian Religion."--Jacket.