Steven Ozment is a brilliant original scholar who always finds the unusual angle, as well as a lively anecdotal writer who always tells the human story. His Protestants are not remote, historical figures, but shoemakers and students, priests and politicians caught up in real-life dilemmas. Through these real people Ozment reexamines the origins of the Reformation and the nature and influence of Protestantism. No other major revolution in Western history is more maligned by historians and overlooked by the general public than the Protestant Reformation. Ozment believes the reason for this is clear: classic Protestantism may ask too much of us; it challenges the pretense and excess of modern life as mercilessly as it did that of Renaissance Christendom, and threatens the fantasies we hold dear. Protestants tells the story of the birth of Protestantism in sixteenth-century Germany--the revolutionary event to which all modern Protestant communions, from Episcopalians to Southern Baptists, ultimately trace their origins, regardless of how far they may have evolved from the founding event. It is a story both of success and of tragedy, of noble but also unrealistic ambition, of dreams that came true and also turned into nightmares. This was the case not only for Protestants but for the Germans as well. A boost to German unity and pride, Protestantism also became the first national movement to warn Germans about themselves. Ozment's investigation becomes a profound critique of the dominant trend in current scholarship on this period, which views the Reformation as the progenitor of German absolutism. Rather, he finds in Protestantism the historic assertion of key Western cultural values--social reform, individual religious conviction, hard work, and the rejection of empty ritual.