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Jonathan Clement’s latest book focuses on the troubled arrival of Christianity to Japan, and the Shimabara Rebellion, an uprising of Catholic Christian peasants in 1637-38.

Japan’s early Christians were branded with hot irons, dipped repeatedly in boiling water and crucified in an attempt to stamp out the faith and its followers. In a particularly inventive and gruesome method, believers were straddled with straw coats made of grass and set on fire. Clements outlines how a pregnant woman was kept in a submerged cage; both mother and the newborn baby died — an incident that may have triggered the Shimabara Rebellion.

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