My Favorite Books

The Walking Drum
Ender's Game
Dune
Jhereg
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
The Curse of Chalion
The Name of the Wind
Chronicles of the Black Company
The Faded Sun Trilogy
The Tar-Aiym Krang

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Review: The Pope at War: The Secret History of Pius XII, Mussolini, and Hitler

The Pope at War: The Secret History of Pius XII, Mussolini, and Hitler The Pope at War: The Secret History of Pius XII, Mussolini, and Hitler by David I Kertzer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“ The world suffers a lot. Not because the violence of bad people, but because of the silence of the good people. ” — Napoleon

This was a very difficult book to read, partly because of the considerable outrage at the unbelievable evil conduct of the Nazi and Fascist regimes, but mostly anger and shame at the silence from communities with whom I still have ethnic and religious connections. The book itself is very well written and organized into four (4) parts: Pre War, Early War (Axis favored to win), Mid War (Toss Up) and Late War/End (Allies favored to win). The book is also pretty big, with over 400 pages of content and 200 pages of citations … so it is not a quick read. 

Most of the book covered behind the scenes maneuver and machinations that puts the Pope and the Church in a very unfavorable light; however, unlike Cornwell’s “Hitler’s Pope”, Kertzer seems to recognize that Pius XII (and the Church) was a product of the times and cuts him some slack with regard to current mores. Unfortunately, that still leaves a flawed man who obviously struggled between hubris and fear, and who was willing to throw pretty much anybody under the bus to save his institution and his own skin. Ultimately we see a man who, despite the august nature of his calling, was focused more on being a good politician/diplomat and not so much on being a good moral leader. The jury is still out on the former; I am pretty confident that he failed in the later.

Part One - War Clouds
- 1 Death of a Pope
- 2 The Conclave
- 3 Appealing to the F├╝hrer
- 4 The Peacemaker
- 5 “Please do not talk to me about Jews.”
- 6 The Nazi Prince
- 7 Saving Face
- 8 War Begins
- 9 The Prince Returns
- 10 A Papal Curse
- 11 Man of Steel
- 12 A Problematic Visitor
Part Two - On the Path to Axis Victory
- 13 An Inopportune Time
- 14 An Honorable Death
- 15 A Short War
- 16 Surveillance
- 17 The Feckless Ally
- 18 The Geek Fiasco
- 19 A New World Order
- 20 Hitler to the Rescue
- 21 The Crusade
- 22 A New Prince
- 23 Best to Say Nothing
Part Three - Change Fortunes
- 24 Escaping Blame
- 25 Papal Premiere
- 26 Disaster Foretold
- 27 A Thorny Problem
- 28 An Awkward Request
- 29 The Good Nazi
- 30 Deposing the Duce
- 31 Musical Chairs
- 32 Betrayal
Part Four - The Sky Turned Black
- 33 Fake New
- 34 The Pope’s Jews
- 35 Baseless Rumors
- 36 Treason
- 37 A Gratifying Sight
- 38 Malevolent Reports
- 39 A Gruesome End
Epilogue
Final Thoughts

I was given this free advance review copy (ARC) ebook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

#ThePopeatWar #NetGalley

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My Ratings Explained ...

  • [ ***** ] Amazing Read - Perfect story, exciting, engrossing, well developed complex characters, solid plot with few to no holes, descriptive environments and place settings, great mystery elements, realistic dialogue, believable reactions and behaviors; a favorite that I can re-read many times.
  • [ **** ] Great Read - Highly entertaining and enjoyable, exciting storyline, well developed characters and settings, a few discrepancies but nothing that can’t be overlooked. Some aspect of the story was new/refreshing to me and/or intriguing. Recommended for everyone.
  • [ *** ] Good Read - Solid story with a 'good' ending, or has some other redeeming feature. Limited character development and/or over reliance on tropes. Noticeable discrepancies in world building and/or dialog/behavior that were distracting. I connected enough with the characters/world to read the entire series. Most of the books I read for fun are here. Recommended for fans of the genre.
  • [ ** ] Okay Read - Suitable for a brief, afternoon escape … flat or shallow characters with little to no development. Over the top character dialog and/or behavior. Poor world building with significant issues and/or mistakes indicating poor research. Excessive use of trivial detail, info dumps and/or pontification. Any issues with the story/characters are offset by some other aspect that I enjoyed. Not very memorable. May only appeal to a niche group of readers. Recommended for some (YMMV).
  • [ * ] Bad Read - Awkward and/or confusing writing style. Poor world building and/or unbelievable (or unlikeable) characters. Victimization, gaslighting, blatant abuse, unnecessary violence, child endangerment, or any other highly objectionable behaviors by Main characters. I didn't connect with the story at all; significant aspects of this story irritated me enough that I struggled to finished it. Series was abandoned. Not recommended.