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New Hitler's Pope
Hitler's Pope
The Secret History of Pius XII
John Cornwell

An interesting book, it covers a matter of great complexity and common misuderstanding with good depth while still being enjoyable to read. The book covers the history of Pius XII from the events that shaped his birth to the events that followed his death. There are a few sections that wander into details of Catholic religious theory that will only be interest to Catholics, but those sections are few and short. That is not to say that there are not large sections of the book about the Catholic religion, but in most cases they are central to the story.

The author is a Roman Catholic, and I do feel that in a few cases he intentionally mutes his sense of outrage to avoid coming across as anti-Catholic. But at the same time the book benefits from the sense of betrayal that only a Roman Catholic could give it.

The book falls short of total outrage and condemnation, but as you read the book you'll begin to understand why. The sources of Pacelli's actions and inactions are documented in great detail, it lays out which things he is actually guilty of and which he is not. It uncovers some facinating history relating to what Pacelli did do to resist the Nazis while not shirking from documenting that the things he should have done and failed to. It debunks the more common myths about Pacelli and the Nazis, both those against and for Pacelli.

The book gives you enough detail and background that you can draw your conclusions as to what Pacelli's thought process must have been, but the author only tries to spell them out when there is enough information to make solid conclusions.

After reading the book you are very likely to be outraged at Pacelli and what he did over his life, but not for the reasons you likely started out with. The book shows in great detail that Pacelli was neither a coward nor a colaborator. But it also shows his dislike for democracy, his obsession with central authority, and other flaws that lead him to the course of action that he took.

It also shows how the stains of Pacelli's actions still effect the church and will continue to do so until the church's fundamental structure is changed. This is probably the most easily missed part of the book, but in some ways more important then the rest. The book documents to just what degree Pacelli personally changed the very nature of the Catholic church, how he is the person most responsible for the structure of the Catholic church today.

Overall, I would give this book an 4 out of 5, if this is a topic of any interest to you then you will enjoy this book.

Jay
New Thanks, on my list.
The subject has always intrigued me.

Be picking it up tomorrow on my weekly jaunt to the Tattered Cover.
-----
Steve
New Another review of the book
with a somewhat different perspective

[link|http://www.firstthings.com/ftissues/ft0001/reviews/rubinstein.html|http://www.firstthi...instein.html]

Tony
New Rather misguided
This review is rather misguided, the reviewer seems to be trying to draw attention away from the core of Hitler's Pope.

The reviewer gives over much of the space to talking about how Jews had a higher survival rate in Catholic countries then elsewhere. But the review ignores how the book spells out that such actions occured despite the church's central authority not because of it.

The review trys to draw a connection between The Deputy and this book, ignoring the fact that the book talks about this play and largly disagrees with the view of the play.

The reviewer trys to convice you that if Pacelli had taken action, that it would have resulted in his death and the death of more Jews. But the book makes clear just how misguided this thinking is, it's just as likely that direct action against the Papacy by the Nazis would have resulted in the collapse of the Nazi government. Hitler went to great lengths to keep the church from taking action exactly because he feared the church.

Finally, the review tries to ridicule the books coverage of Pacelli's early actions in Serbia. This ridicule misses the point though, the author never actually accused Pacelli of causing WWI. It is noteworthy though, first for it's irony value, since it shows how Pacelli had an indirect hand in causing both WWI and WWII. Second, it demonstrates a pattern of thinking that dominates Pacelli's life. Pacelli went ahead with the concordant despite warning that signing such an agreement while tensions where high might be unwise.

Jay
New I don't agree with your judgement
but won't get involved in an argument -- we've already had enough problems losing people here.

I do think it's fair to note that a lot of people disagree with the author. Of course, that's the fun part of history -- it's never as cut and dried as it's taught in school (including college).

Tony
     Hitler's Pope - (JayMehaffey) - (4)
         Thanks, on my list. - (Steve Lowe)
         Another review of the book - (tonytib) - (2)
             Rather misguided - (JayMehaffey) - (1)
                 I don't agree with your judgement - (tonytib)

Don't touch it, it's excrement.
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