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Saints and Sinners: A history of the Popes [Hardcover]

Eamon Duffy
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Aug 1997
This text encompasses the history of the papacy, from its beginnings nearly 2000 years ago to the reign of Pope John Paul II. It is a book that should interest anyone wishing to understand the history of the Catholic church, as well as anyone with an interest in the ideological, political, and cultural forces that have shaped the modern world. Eamon Duffy traces the process by which Peter, the humble fisherman of Galilee, became the figurehead and basis for an institution that outlived not only the Roman and Byzantine empires but also those of Carolingian Gaul, medieval Germany, Spain, Britain, the Third Reich of Hitler and most recently the Soviet Union. Today, 700 million people look to the Pope for spiritual leadership and the Papacy has become the oldest and perhaps most influential of human institutions. Duffy begins by exploring the origin of the Papacy and the development of papal authority in the centuries after Roman Emperor Nero's execution of the Apostle Peter. He describes the role of the Papacy in political as well as religious spheres after the collapse of the Roman Empire; the contradictory period of the Middle Ages, when popes launched the Crusades and established the Inquisition even as they adopted exalted spiritual reforms; and the notorious popes of renaissance Rome whose support of Leonardo, Raphael and Michelangelo yielded religious masterpieces, but whose worldly habits helped bring about the Reformation and the split of western christendom. The author shows how popes have faced the multiple challenges of the modern world since the French Revolution and how they continue to influence such contemporary issues as the morality of the death penalty, of abortion, of capitalism and of nuclear war.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 332 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; 1st Edition edition (1 Aug 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300073321
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300073324
  • Product Dimensions: 28.3 x 20.6 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 741,264 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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"A distinguished text ... offering plenty of historical facts and sobering, valuable judgments." -- Henry Chadwick, New York Times Book Review

"A minor masterpiece which is everything good, popular history ought to be ... The most comprehensive single-volume history of the popes in print." -- John Adamson, Sunday Telegraph

"Duffy enlivens the long march through church history with anecdotes that bring the different pontiffs to life ... Saints and Sinners is a remarkable achievement." -- Piers Paul Read, The Times

"The best one-volume history of the papacy ever written." -- T. F. X. Noble

"Will intrigue the faithful as well as the skeptical." -- Economist --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Eamon Duffy, President of Magdalene College, Cambridge, is also the author of The Stripping of the Altars: Traditional Religion in England, 1400-1580 (0 300 06076 9, pb. [pound]13.95*) and The Voices of Morebath (0 300 09185 0, [pound]16.95*), both published by Yale University Press. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Round the dome of St Peter's basilica in Rome, in letters six feet high, are Christ's words to Peter from chapter sixteen of Matthew's Gospel: Tu es Petrus, et super hanc petram aedificabo ecclesiam meam et tibi dabo claves regni coelorum (Thou art Peter, and upon this Rock I will build my Church and I will give to thee the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven). Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
69 of 75 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent resource 13 Jan 2002
By A Customer
With "Saints and Sinners", Duffy provides a beautiful, well-written, anecdote-rich account of the papacy. I originally approached this book when I needed some information on Pius IX, but the quality of the section covering his pontificate meant I just couldn't resist reading the rest of the book. The text is lively, witty and engaging; the pictures accompanying it well-selected and wonderful to look at. For anyone interested in learning more about one of the oldest institutions on earth, this book is highly recommended.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative and Eye-Opening 12 Nov 2011
By Igor
I really enjoyed this book.

This book showed the good, the bad, and the ugly. It would make a great film, especially with the likes of Pope Leo X, Benedict VIII, and of course the Borgia pope. Overall, Mr Duffy goes light on the theology, and concentrates instead on the history and characters of the popes. And what an amazing bunch they were. Indeed, one or two didn't even believe in God! Many were only in it for anything they could get, which was plenty, and had no hesitation in lining their own pockets.

Others were just out for themselves. For anyone wishing to learn about the catholic church, warts and all, then this book comes highly recommended.
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33 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant 25 Jun 2005
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A fabulous short history of the papacy, written by a great writer. Duffy manages to explain, in simple language accessible to all, how Rome's Bishops managed to position themselves as leaders of Western Christianity, and why they split from the Eastern Orthodox Church. Anyone interested in European history must take account of the popes and their influence, and I know of no other book that explains it as well.
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4.0 out of 5 stars an intriguing reference book 10 Nov 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
It is interesting to read the interpretations of a respected authority on the Papacy. The language used is concise and reads well.
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4.0 out of 5 stars riveting read 12 Jun 2013
By deggsie
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is very well put together and not bogged down with detail .I would certainly recommend this as a good interesting read.Very well researched and put together. Delivered in three days.
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