I bought this book because I was particularly interested to hear a Rabbi’s perspective on the controversy about whether Pope Pius XII helped the Jews under Nazi persecution. Rabbi Dalin really did deliver a fresh perspective, citing sources I haven’t encountered elsewhere and looking at a lot of Jewish history that isn’t usually brought to bear on “the Pius wars.” He convincingly demonstrates that the Pope was anti-Nazi, not anti-Semitic, and worked with the Church hierarchy throughout Europe to save as many Jews as possible and to help those who were displaced. Rabbi Dalin also directly dismantles the arguments of Pius XII’s loudest critics, showing where they have overlooked or discounted credible sources and inconvenient facts.
The most surprising part of this book was the chapter on “Hitler’s Mufti,” showing how the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem supported the Third Reich while Pope Pius XII was working against it. Rabbi Dalin ties all of this in with the rise of radical Islam and modern-day anti-Semitism.
I would have liked a bibliography with more details of the primary sources used here, rather than just the secondary sources mentioned in the notes, but this is a book for the general reader, not the academic specialist, and I’m sure that people who are new to this controversy as well as those who have already done some reading on it will find Rabbi Dalin’s book to be worthwhile.