3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
The perfect book on the subject,
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This review is from: The Popes: A History (Paperback)
A while ago I read "Saints & Sinners" which was a history of the Papacy written by a Catholic. It was interesting, but all too often refused to mention anything negative and to do a proper history of the Holy See you have to accept that for every Gregory the Great you have someone underwhelming like Benedict IX. No one but the most myopic believer can seriously believe the medieval papacy was whiter than white, some Popes bought their position, many had a string of mistresses and others led armies- the muddling of spiritual and temporal matters led to corruption that simply cannot be whitewashed away.
But to write exclusively on the dark politics of the Papacy would be just as wrong as making out that it's always been run with nothing but the noblest values in mind. What this book does is show the good and the bad. Add to that some wry asides and a story that is masterfully summarised (most Popes could warrant their own books) and you have an essential book that covers 2,000 years of Western history.
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