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At its best, The War of the Poor feels urgent, breathless — as “molten” as the lead type in the new printing presses that stoked dissent and accusations of heresy. Don’t read it as balanced history — although Vuillard has plunged deep into the era’s scholarship — or as simple historical fiction. Rather, Müntzer’s rise from wandering Protestant ultra who berated Luther as a spineless sellout, to figurehead for revolution becomes a mirror for our own convulsive times. Vuillard took inspiration from the gilets jaunes anti-establishment protests that erupted in France in 2018. His prose evokes the sputtering uncertainty of spontaneous revolt, free of doctrine and hierarchy, as “the hinges of old thinking burst off the doors”.