GOD'S BANKERS

A HISTORY OF MONEY AND POWER AT THE VATICAN

A meticulous work that cracks wide open the Vatican’s legendary, enabling secrecy.

A dogged reporter exhaustively pursues the nefarious enrichment of the Vatican, from the Borgias to Pope Francis.

In one of his previous works, Mengele (1986), former Wall Street lawyer–turned–accomplished historian and author Posner (Warlords of Crime; Hitler’s Children, etc.) followed the money connection from the Nazi criminals fleeing the Third Reich to Argentina—and struck Vatican gold. Laundering Nazi booty extracted from the Jews, protecting Nazi criminals as they found refuge across the globe, providing hush money for egregious cases of pedophiliac priests—these are just some of the tentacles of Vatican bankrolling since World War II. Having overcome its aversion to moneylending and capitalism as being practices of Protestants and Jews after Italian unification, the Vatican later established a stabilizing appeasement policy with secular leader Mussolini in the form of the Lateran Pacts. Pope Pius XI’s financial adviser, Bernardino Nogara, diversified Vatican finances through the Depression era, entangling Vatican and Fascist ties. The Reichskonkordat, a series of pacts signed by Hitler, extracted taxes from Catholic churches and guaranteed the Vatican's silence regarding the Holocaust; it also funneled “blood money” from Nazi victims and supported the “ratline” for escaping Nazi criminals. Posner tracks the formation of the Institute per le Opere di Religione (the Vatican bank) in 1942 through its troubled survival into the present era, as it has battled accusations of mob ties, “gay lobby” scandals, WikiLeaks disclosures, lawsuits by victims of sex abuse and the insistence by the European Union on more transparency in the bank’s dealings. Pope Francis’ promises of reform are going to be closely watched. Posner bases his massive research on extensive interviews and documents found in the archives of governments and private companies across the world (the author was barred from the Vatican’s own Secret Archives).

A meticulous work that cracks wide open the Vatican’s legendary, enabling secrecy.

Pub Date: Feb. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-1416576570

Page Count: 728

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

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Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

NIGHT

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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