FL_WarPope

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

Written by David I. Kertzer

From Random House:

INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “The most important book ever written about the Catholic Church and its conduct during World War II. . . . The best nonfiction book of the summer.”—Daniel Silva on the Today show

Based on newly opened Vatican archives, a groundbreaking, explosive, and riveting book about Pope Pius XII and his actions during World War II, including how he responded to the Holocaust, by the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Pope and Mussolini

When Pope Pius XII died in 1958, his papers were sealed in the Vatican Secret Archives, leaving unanswered questions about what he knew and did during World War II. Those questions have only grown and festered, making Pius XII one of the most controversial popes in Church history, especially now as the Vatican prepares to canonize him.

In 2020, Pius XII’s archives were finally opened, and David I. Kertzer—widely recognized as one of the world’s leading Vatican scholars—has been mining this new material ever since, revealing how the pope came to set aside moral leadership in order to preserve his church’s power.

Based on thousands of never-before-seen documents not only from the Vatican, but from archives in Italy, Germany, France, Britain, and the United States, The Pope at War paints a new, dramatic portrait of what the pope did and did not do as war enveloped the continent and as the Nazis began their systematic mass murder of Europe’s Jews. The book clears away the myths and sheer falsehoods surrounding the pope’s actions from 1939 to 1945, showing why the pope repeatedly bent to the wills of Hitler and Mussolini.

Just as Kertzer’s Pulitzer Prize–winning The Pope and Mussolini became the definitive book on Pope Pius XI and the Fascist regime, The Pope at War is destined to become the most influential account of his successor, Pius XII, and his relations with Mussolini and Hitler. Kertzer shows why no full understanding of the course of World War II is complete without knowledge of the dramatic, behind-the-scenes role played by the pope. “This remarkably researched book is replete with revelations that deserve the adjective ‘explosive,’” says Kevin Madigan, Winn Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Harvard University. “The Pope at War is a masterpiece.”

“A masterly character study of a flawed, tormented leaderand a cautionary tale about the perils of both-sides-ism.”—The New Yorker

“Kertzer brings all of his usual detective and narrative skills to [The Pope at War] . . . the most comprehensive account of the Vatican’s relations to the Nazi and fascist regimes before and during the war.”—The Washington Post

“Definitive.”—The Boston Globe

“David Kertzer has spent decades excavating the Vatican’s hidden history . . . winning a Pulitzer and capturing Hollywood’s attention. [His] new book . . . documents the private decision-making that led Pope Pius XII to stay essentially silent about Hitler’s genocide and argues that the pontiff’s impact on the war is underestimated. And not in a good way.”—The New York Times

“Remarkable.”—Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“A damning picture of a holy man who chose to remain silent about the mass destruction of European Jewry.”—Haaretz

“A highly readable, a character-driven history well-paced with textured personalities, and a wealth of granular detail . . . [Kertzer] rarely editorializes—the facts are numbingly powerful.”—National Catholic Reporter

“A riveting history and valuable lesson for our time about the perils of neutrality.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Combin[es] extraordinary documentation and elegant writing.”—BookPage