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In 1938, Pope Pius XI was the world's most prominent critic of Hitler and his rhetoric of ethnic "purity." To make his voice heard, Pius called upon a relatively unknown American Jesuit whose writing about racism in America had caught the Pope's attention. Pius enlisted John LaFarge to write a papal encyclical - the Vatican's strongest decree - publicly condemning Hitler, Mussolini, and their murderous Nazi campaign against the Jews.
At the same time conservative members of the Vatican's innermost circle were working in secret to suppress the document. Chief among them was Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, whose appeasement of the Germans underlay a deep-running web of conspiracy. Pacelli, who would become Pope Pius XII, was joined by Wlodimir Ledóchowski, leader of the Jesuit order, to keep the finished encyclical from reaching the increasingly ill Pope.
Peter Eisner, award-winning reporter and author of the critically acclaimed The Freedom Line, combines shocking new evidence (released only recently from Vatican archives) and eyewitness testimony to create a compelling journey into the heart of the Vatican and a little-known story of an American's partnership with the head of the Catholic Church. A truly essential work, it brings staggering new light to one of the most critical junctures in modern history.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Erik on 05-22-13
Sporadic and a Let Down
Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?
Probably not. I'm a Catholic and a huge WW2 history buff, and after listening to this, I came away feeling let down and unsatisfied. The history is nothing new. The story inside the Vatican is interesting, however. The story bounces around. The theme is very unclear until the very end. I came into this book thinking it'd be about a priest actively working with the pope against Hitler. Instead, it's a priest personally summoned by the pope to perform a task. This priest performs the task with zero enthusiasm and without any heart...that's kind of the same way I felt listening to this book.
Would you ever listen to anything by Peter Eisner again?
Probably not. The story telling was sporadic and random. At first, I thought that this would be about John LaFarge, and for the first third of the book, it was. Then, the story starts jumping around following different people and telling seemingly meaningless stories of their lives while somewhat following a story line and some sort of plot.. The story begins in semi-first person then goes to third person, then back to first person, then is told in the form of a history lesson.
Did the narration match the pace of the story?
The narration, or the voice of the story was somewhat disappointing. I felt like I was a sixth grader being read to by a teacher - too simplistic and not a lot of emotion or variation in the voice. The pace of the story was slow.
Any additional comments?
This is a story of a simple, naive, uncourageous priest and treachery in the Vatican under Pope Pius XI. The WW2 history is uninteresting and abbreviated. LaFarge's actions are a disappointment. The outcome of this story is a huge disappointment.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful