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A Special Mission: Hitler's Secret Plot to Seize the Vatican and Kidnap Pope Pius XII Hardcover – 7 Jun 2007

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 285 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press; 1st edition edition (7 Jun. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306814684
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306814686
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 16.2 x 2.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,918,284 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"(A) captivating account of the Nazi's audacious plan to storm the Vatican and seize Pius XII as punishment for denouncing the deportation of Jews." Catholic Herald --The Catholic Herald

About the Author

Dan Kurzman, a former foreign correspondent for the Washington Post, is the award-winning author of sixteen highly acclaimed books, including Fatal Voyage and the Bravest Battle. He lives in New Jersey.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By James Gallen TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 8 Jun. 2009
Format: Paperback
This book presents the reader with intrigue worthy of a top notch mystery and history that holds your attention like a novel. This is what appears to be a well researched study into the delicate maneuvers Pope Pius XII, SS Commander in Italy, Gen. Karl Wolf, Adolph Hitler and a host of other characters who all play their part in this drama. The basic premise is that Hitler gave orders to Wolf to seize the Vatican, kidnap Pope Pius, and take the Vatican's archives and portable art to Germany. Wolf did not want to kidnap the Pope so he worked to frustrate Hitler's plan. This book approaches the question of Pius' response to the Holocaust. Author Dan Kurzman does an excellent job of providing a balanced perspective of the problem. Whereas so many view the question only as whether Pius should be faulted for not speaking out, Kurzman reports on the Roman Jews who were saved by Pius' actions and the many factors which went into each decision. Would a public condemnation by Pius be effective? The Germans feared it, but many doubted whether it would receive the publication necessary to make a difference. What were Pius' obligations, to protect the Jews? To preserve the standing of the Church so it could continue to preach the Gospel under whatever government emerged from the war? To protect the West from Communism, which Pius may have seen as a greater threat than Nazism? Kurzman makes much of Pius' goal of preserving his potential as a peacemaker. While raising all of these issues and more, Kurzman leaves the reader to formulate his own answers.

I have long felt that Pius tried to do what he thought was right and that any errors were those of judgment, rather than of the heart.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By W. Page on 21 Jun. 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a very interesting book indeed - giving lots of detail (and some conjecture) about one of the second world war's less well known events.
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By critical on 5 Feb. 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What a thriller - but true
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 20 reviews
58 of 64 people found the following review helpful
About Time 2 Jun. 2007
By Michael Hussle - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
It's about time that somebody jumped off the bandwagon that blindly shouts that Pius XII didn't do enough about the holocaust, and actually took a look at historical evidence to see if such accusations are warranted. What's been said about Pius XII is a real assasination of character. Bravo for standing up for historical truth for once.
33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
Well Done and Balanced View of Pius 7 Sept. 2007
By Hope for the Best - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Kurzman has done excellent work in this very well balanced history of Pope Pius and the Nazi threat in WWII. There are no excuses made or whitewash of what the Vatican did and did not do during the war but this book aids in having a better understanding of the situation, time, and place. It also offers some enlightenment into the thinking of the pope and the objectives of the Vatican. Very worthwhile to anyone interested in these issues and most certainly essential reading for anyone who has read "Hitler's Pope." It is clear from what Kurzman writes that Pius was not a supporter of Hitler and his policies. The complications, danger, and moral struggle of a basically good man of faith challenged by impossible circumstances in a world gone mad have never been presented in a better way.
31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
A Breath of Fresh Air 15 July 2007
By J. M. Dattilo - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Kurman's work, the research for which was done over the course of almost 30 years, does a great job of showing that Pope Pius XII is not the evil figure portrayed by so many wannabe historians. This book is well-written, thoughtful and touching. If you are a student of history, this is well worth your time.
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Pope Pius vs Adolph Hitler 17 Aug. 2007
By John Yuskaitis - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
It was a most difficult time for the world in general, and for Pius XII in particular. Hitler's ambition threatened to conquer all of Europe and impose a rule of tyranny. The Pope, while he was Secretary of State and before his election to the papacy, was on record as opposing Hitler and his policies, and was hated by the Fuhrer. A Special Mission was ordered by Hitler to Seize the Pope and transport him to northern Italy, and at the same time to eliminate the high officials in the Vatican government. This mission was given to General Karl Wolff, the SS Commandant in Rome. Wolff perceived this action as a detriment to the Nazi cause, thinking that the tide of public opinion would be overwhelmingly against Germany, and even affect the morale and support of the German troops, a large percentage of whom were Catholic. He also came to believe that Germany would not win the war, and that his efforts to abort the kidnap mission could help Germany to obtain honorable terms for surrender, and even an accord with the Allies to oppose Soviet Russia. Accordingly, the General did everything he could to short-circuit the plan, including warning the Pope about the Special Mission, and asking him to refrain from speaking out against Hitler, to avoid capture and the destruction of the Vatican government.

Kurzman carefully records the many incidents that took place in this drama, many of them related to the exchanges between General Wolff and the Pope. There are many details that perhaps are not common knowledge, and from an historical perspective are quite interesting. While the intention of the author would seem to be vindication of Pius's role during World War II, the subtle questions he poses seem to me to be barbs inflicted for dereliction of duty - cheap shots. All in all, it is an interesting account of the battle between the Vatican and the Third Reich and is worthwhile reading.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Thrilling real-life espionage 12 Dec. 2008
By Stratiotes Doxha Theon - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The fact that this story is a balanced and fair assessment of a Pope means it will be appealing to conservative Roman Catholics hoping to find the truth about Pius XII. It is not a defense of this much-maligned Pope but the facts speak for themselves in the depth of research this work provides. But beyond setting the record straight with meticulous research, Mr. Kurzman has crafted a thrilling tale of espionage and intrigue sure to please the likes of Ian Fleming or Tom Clancy fans. As is so often the case, real history is often filled with more excitement than the most gifted fiction writers could imagine. Such is the case in this story. Well written story-telling with great attention to historical detail. Very highly recommended fun and informative reading.
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