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Document Type

Book Review

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Published Version

Publication Date


Journal or Book Title

The Medieval Review


The Devil has been many things in his long life: a servant in the celestial court (Book of Job), a prideful monarch preferring to reign in Hell (John Milton), or even God's ape (Martin Luther). Philip Almond introduces him first as the tormentor of young Regan MacNeil in the film version of The Exorcist. That movie, he argues "was the beginning of a re-engagement with the demonic in film, television, literature and music that has lasted into the twenty-first century" (xiii). It sparked an increase in actual exorcisms practiced by both Protestant and Catholic churches, as well as influencing fears of Satanic abuse of children and suspicion of demonic activity associated with neo-pagan groups. Our modern fascination with the Devil, however, is not actually Almond's focus. He uses the presentday only as a framing device for this accessible and engaging history of the Devil in Western culture from antiquity to the Enlightenment.


This book review is published as Philip C. Almond, The Devil: A New Biography, reviewed in Medieval Review (on-line journal, posted April 2015). Posted with permission.

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The Trustees of Indiana University



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