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A History of the Popes: From Peter to the Present Paperback – 16 Aug 2011

3.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Sheed & Ward,U.S.; Reprint edition (16 Aug. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1580512283
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580512282
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 2.2 x 23.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,460,186 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


John W. O'Malley's A History of the Popes is a fast-paced narrative crammed with skillful vignettes of a colorful and varied cast of pontiffs from saints to sinners. The underlying theme of the narrative is the emergence of the papacy as a global institution and the development of its modern powers, many surprisingly recent in origin.--Jill Ker Conway, former president, Smith College; author of The Road from Coorain

A History of the Popes has all the characteristic virtues of Father John W. O'Malley's scholarship. It is clear and straightforward, balanced and fair, lively and informative. He is quick to reveal the warts of the popes but equally quick to recognize their virtues. He is alert to demolish many myths that have grown up around papal history, but his approach is never polemical or iconoclastic. This will quickly be recognized as the work of a well-respected historian who has taught this material and reflected upon it over a period of many years, and should attract a wide readership well beyond the confines of the Catholic Church.--Msgr. Thomas J. Shelley, Fordham University

John W. O'Malley has written a fine narrative history of the papacy. Learned but accessible, lively but judicious, this is a story not just of personalities but context, as well-one that speaks to our own time as well as the past. Historical analysis at its best.--Leslie Woodcock Tentler, The Catholic University of America

John W. O'Malley, S.J., is not only the dean of American Catholic historians, he is also one of the church's greatest and most accomplished teachers. In his superb new book, Father O'Malley combines immense learning, sparkling prose, and fascinating insights to introduce readers to the always colorful history of the papacy. There can be no better guide for the educated reader to the story of the popes than Father O'Malley.--James Martin S.J., author of My Life with the Saints

O'Malley's offering is simple and straightforward, a perfect introduction to the subject and an easy read.--The American Spectator (11/14/2009)

The debate will continue about why the institution, one which Protestantism has tried to live without, persists anyway. . . . That question about the institution called papacy persists most of all and its current issues are well presented by John O'Malley's A History of the Popes. It's an excellent addition to any serious theological library but it's also an approachable story for the general reader which most everyone will find as a good and compelling introduction to these important men of Christian history.-- (11/26/2009)

Documenting fifteen hundred years of history in 300 pages is a daunting task, but one that priest and Georgetown University professor O'Malley handles with gusto and a fair hand; considering the level of emotion that the Papacy can inspire, O'Malley reserves his enthusiasm for the unexpected twists of history, rather than any particular character or school of thought. In concise but engaging prose, O'Malley manages to find virtue in popes maligned by history, and a critical approach to the frequently-lauded, while keeping an eye on the world at large. . . . Readers eager for a breezy survey of papal history will be pleased.-- (12/01/2009)

Fr. O'Malley is a gifted writer, and though he must by necessity move fairly quickly through the centuries, he is capable at lingering on these characters enough to give a sense of their personality and place in the historical drama around them. He is also good at showing the movement and growth of the papacy throughout the past two millennia.-- (11/05/2009)

For a fair-minded, lively, easy-to-read account of the oldest surviving institution in the Western world, O'Malley's offering is hard to beat.--National Catholic Reporter (12/01/2009)

In serving up this kind of hard-nosed history of so many saints and sinners, O'Malley surely does not disappoint. . . . O'Malley's treatment of the medieval popes is consistently clear and engaging, but he really hits his stride when he reaches the popes of the early modern period, his own area of specialization. . . . A fine example of a successful synthesis of a vast and complicated topic. And its publication is just one more reason O'Malley rightly deserves the title of dean of American Catholic church historians.-- (01/04/2010)

About the Author

John W. O'Malley, S.J., is a Roman Catholic priest and professor of religion at Georgetown University. He lives in Washington, D.C., and is the author of numerous books, including What Happened at Vatican II and Four Cultures of the West.

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21 March 2013
Format: Paperback

Most helpful customer reviews on 3.9 out of 5 stars 36 reviews
4.0 out of 5 starsHabemus Papam
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Richard R.
5.0 out of 5 starsAn Amazing Journey
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Lorraine Phillips
2.0 out of 5 starsNot what I was looking for in a history book
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4.0 out of 5 starsToo much information too quickly
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L. White
5.0 out of 5 starsA must read to understand Italian + European history
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