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on 28 April 2013
I am not a Roman Catholic, so find the inner workings of the Vatican a strange and foreign world. How one ordinary man can grow from childhood, and in this case an extraordinary period of history, to become the representative of God on earth is unfathomable. However, Garry O'Connor's book has illuminated understanding of a Pope who has caused controversy by resigning but also has a dubious upbringing in Nazi Germany and has been criticized for not dealing with the child abuse scandals. Within Subdued Fires there is sympathy and approval, criticism and controversy. The belief of the author that the Pope should have resigned before will no doubt cause a stir. To a non-Catholic, it is a fascinating read.
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on 27 April 2013
This is the first time I have ever got an in-depth picture of the man who was the last Pope. Fast-moving, reading like a novel, the book's first half explores and shows Joseph Ratzinger, the boy growing up in troubled Nazi times and reveals a personality far more dramatic and mysterious than I ever imagined he could be.

In rather dark and horrifying detail, the author captures the ambiguous role the Catholic Church played during Hitler's meteoric rise and illustrates how Benedict was affected in his chequered journey as Pope - including the child abuse scandals and the reasons he stepped down at the end. I found myself wondering how the author had managed to find so many fresh and unusual sources of information.

A must read for anyone who believes character is fate. A compact and extremely readable picture of the man who goverened the world's billion+ Catholics.
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on 4 December 2013
Mr O'Connor evidently doesn't like Emeritus Pope Benedict.The book gives the impression that it was written in some haste and fever.This surprises me as the author is a respected writer.
The proof reader has missed inaccuracies,to mention two,Pope Francis is seventy seven,not sixty seven and it was Chris Patten and not John who was asked to manage Pope Benedict's visit to the United Kingdom.

Two stars
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on 29 April 2013
Having heard Benedict's address in Whitehall I was keen to find a book which authoritatively but objectively set out to examine the intriguing and complex personality who led one billion Catholics until recently and then to the surprise of the world decided to retire!
This book is multifaceted , learned,nuanced and unputdownable- the most recent oeuvre of a well-established and insightful writer.
I recommend it to all Catholic or not who wish to gain a good understanding of one of the key figures of our age.
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on 28 April 2013
I Raise My Glass to a Five Star Meal.

In this world of celebrity gossip and face book phantasmagoria I admit that one of my great pleasures is to sit over a meal and a good bottle of wine and having a real discussion about a significant public figure with someone who thinks deeply and presents me with thought provoking information; the dark and light of a real man not a PR image creation. This book is for me one of my 'good meals' with a man I know and respect. He talks about this 'gentle' Pope and sets one thinking and wanting to enquire more: here are childhood days, student years, some youth during Hitler's Reich, military service, an intellect grappling with Vatican politics and of course his dealing or not dealing with the child abuse scandals of his final years. It is no character assassination, it is an effort to reveal the whole man. For me it explains how such a Pope has been ground into submission by the complexity of the Vatican manoeuvres and Papal power in the divine games of 'Rome'. I congratulate Garry O' Connor - Five Stars! I raise my glass. I'd like to share a meal and a glass of wine with him.
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