THE BAD POPES by E. R. Chamberlin


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The most unfortunate thing about this book is its title. Mr. Chamberlin does not mean ""bad popes""; he means ""interesting popes."" A few of the seven pontiffs about whom he writes were indeed ""bad"" by any standards -- say, John XII and Benedict IX and Alexander VI. But Boniface VIII, the last of the heroic popes? Leo X, that papal Maecenas of the Renaissance? Clement VII, that victim of the ambitions of the Emperor Charles V? None of these latter would qualify, at least according to the retrospective wisdom which a sense of history confers, for that title. Indeed, the author himself seems to agree, for his appraisals are fair, balanced and based logically upon the proper sources and interpretations. Next in the order of misfortune is the price, which, despite the thirty-two pages of black and white illustrations and a rather splendid frontispiece, will pull off many prospective readers. A pity; for Mr. Chamberlin's critical sense, and his graceful style, deserve a wide audience.

Pub Date: June 20th, 1969
Publisher: Dial