Top critical review
More Heavily Slanted Historical Novel than History
on 12 October 2016
Not worthwhile. A lot of novelistic imagination about private conversations that no one was privy too, without any documentation or footnotes. From the book itself there is no way to know what is documented fact, and what is the author's benevolent imagination. If one does know the underlying documented history, however, one knows that the vast majority of the book is the latter, not the former. This book takes the bare bones of the positive actions that Pope Pius XII took, which have been far better documented elsewhere, and embroiders a sort of sugar-coated historical novel around them. And some of the history (such as the origin of the encyclical Mit Brennender Sorge and the conflict between Pacelli and Pius XI over it), is incorrect. Far better books on the subject exist, such as Michael Phayer's "The Catholic Church and the Holocaust, 1930-1965" or Frank Coppa's "The Life and Pontificate of Pope Pius XII: Between History and Controversy". Both are written by Catholics as fair and balanced history, not polemical argument on one side or the other. This book, on the other hand, is a whitewashed fictionalized account that does not do justice to a far more complex situation and Pope.