Noel D. Johnson and Mark Koyama, Persecution and toleration: the long road to religious freedom. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2019, xiv + 354 pp, USD 29.99 (paperback)

  • Vincent GelosoEmail author
Book Review

When we speak of religious toleration today, we generally invoke its enlightened definition in which differences in faith are accepted and welcomed. However, there is a more limited concept of toleration whereby these differences are merely endured, and violence between the faithful is constrained only by the opportunity costs of violence. For this reason, the latter definition of toleration is the only relevant one as it precedes (and probably causes) the more enlightened version.

In Persecution and Toleration,Noel Johnson and Mark Koyama rely on this superior definition to explain the rise and fall of religious violence in Europe. Their arguments are simple enough to comprehend as they follow a lucid analytical storyline. First, there was an era of religious toleration during the middle ages. During this era, weak states made arrangements with religious groups that can only be described as forms of rent-sharing agreements. Second, as the power of states grew during the early modern...


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Management, Economics and MathematicsKing’s University CollegeLondonCanada

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