The Perfect Heresy: The Revolutionary Life and Death of the Medieval Cathars is a splendid historical look at the 13th Century Crusade and Inquisition undertaken by the Catholic Church to rid the Languedoc of the Cathars.
The Cathars were a dualist Christian faith popular amongst the people of the Languedoc for their pious lifestyle of poverty, tolerance and spiritual guidance. They preached against the material world, and outwardly expressed their disapproval of the wealth accrued by the Catholic Church.
The Cathars were a truly amazing and resilient people, yet the indiscriminate force beared down on the people of the Languedoc by the Crusaders, combined with the cunning of the Inquisitors eventually saw the Cathar faith disappear and be relegated to the pages of history.
Stephen O'Shea's description of the events that took place during the this period of history are brilliant and read like a novel. Never does it feel like an academic textbook. O'Shea's determination to get the Cathar story right is evident from the first page to the last, and he goes to great lengths to debunk the myths about the Cathars that surfaced during the Victorian Era, were mis-used and abused by the Nazis, and embellished by the hippies in the latter half of the 20th Century.
The story of the Cathars is one violence, persecution, determination, and above all else: faith. It also acts as a reminder of "the dangers of the absolute", and is simply fantastic.