An interesting page-turner for the armchair Vatican-watcher.



A topical look at Pope Francis and his effect on the Catholic Church.

BBC Vatican correspondent Willey (God's Politician: Pope John Paul II, the Catholic Church, and the New World Order, 1992, etc.) adds to the collection of works on Pope Francis with an inside view from the Vatican. In a narrative alternating among biography, journalistic report, and historical analysis, the author examines the church Francis has inherited as well as his early effects on the church as a global institution. Willey focuses on specific issues facing the church or arising from the Francis papacy. After a short discussion of who Francis is and how he came to this role, the author dives right into the money crises facing the church in recent years, namely the corrupt and secretive nature of the Vatican bank. He moves on to discuss Francis’ views about women, demonstrating that in this vein, at least, the reformer has shown little signs of budging from the status quo. Willey goes on to address the worldwide sexual abuse scandal by Catholic priests and the pope’s mixed reactions toward it. Other issues discussed include the pope’s knack for communicating, both one-on-one and through mass media; his responsibility for the Vatican art collection; the church’s response toward homosexuals and divorced persons; and the future of the global church, with an emphasis on Asia. Readers looking for an introductory biography should search elsewhere; Willey’s goal is to present a more comprehensive look at the church and Francis together. His work is laden with historical discussions providing background for modern circumstances—for instance, several paragraphs are dedicated to explaining the intriguing history of Vatican Radio as background for understanding the pope’s current use of mass media). Willey’s take on the pope is certainly positive, and his views on the topics presented are always clear.

An interesting page-turner for the armchair Vatican-watcher.

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4767-8905-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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