COUNCIL

Plenty of description and Church background material, but still a gripping read as words march for their presold audience.

Timothy John Cardinal Mulrennan returns (Conclave (2001)—and gets elected Pope.

While still Archbishop for Newark, Mulrennan was called to Rome to organize business in the Curia Romana and spent several years there learning Vatican politics. He loved Pope John but stood against the ultraconservative Evangelium Christi. When Good Pope John dies, a Filipino is elected, but Innocent XIV is assassinated within six months (by Muslim fanatics?), and Mulrennan is his successor: Pope Celestine VI. Now we learn that Innocent XIV had planned to bring the Church into the modern world, a plan admired today by Mulrennan. The new pope, a knowing politician, spots his enemies quickly when he decides to call an ecumenical council of bishops to discuss “a world of unspeakable terrorism and abuse of human beings,” to seek unity among Christian denominations, and understanding between Christians and other faiths, such as Judaism and Islam. The successor to an assassinated pope, Mulrennan knows firsthand the horrors of terrorism: he lent his presence and aid to victims of the World Trade Center attack. Meanwhile, Kurt Schulhafer, a veteran of the Vatican’s Swiss Guard, is rubbed out after he attempts to hire a murderer to kill a young guardsman who may expose Schulhafer’s homosexual past and cost him his job, pension, and family. This points to the need for heightened security measures for Mulrennan and the 4,000 bishops attending the council. Mix in a troubled parish priest called to Rome from New Jersey, his old Greek girlfriend (now a bureau chief in Rome), a girl from Bosnia-Herzegovina who has seen the Virgin six times and received ten secrets by her, a tumor on Mulrennan’s spine, a fanatical Argentine businessman sponsored by Evangelium Christi who murders Mulrennan’s closest advisor and has plans for a suicide plot.

Plenty of description and Church background material, but still a gripping read as words march for their presold audience.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-312-87353-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Forge

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2002

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THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS

These letters from some important executive Down Below, to one of the junior devils here on earth, whose job is to corrupt mortals, are witty and written in a breezy style seldom found in religious literature. The author quotes Luther, who said: "The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn." This the author does most successfully, for by presenting some of our modern and not-so-modern beliefs as emanating from the devil's headquarters, he succeeds in making his reader feel like an ass for ever having believed in such ideas. This kind of presentation gives the author a tremendous advantage over the reader, however, for the more timid reader may feel a sense of guilt after putting down this book. It is a clever book, and for the clever reader, rather than the too-earnest soul.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1942

ISBN: 0060652934

Page Count: 53

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1943

Categories:

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THE TATTOOIST OF AUSCHWITZ

The writing is merely serviceable, and one can’t help but wish the author had found a way to present her material as...

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An unlikely love story set amid the horrors of a Nazi death camp.

Based on real people and events, this debut novel follows Lale Sokolov, a young Slovakian Jew sent to Auschwitz in 1942. There, he assumes the heinous task of tattooing incoming Jewish prisoners with the dehumanizing numbers their SS captors use to identify them. When the Tätowierer, as he is called, meets fellow prisoner Gita Furman, 17, he is immediately smitten. Eventually, the attraction becomes mutual. Lale proves himself an operator, at once cagey and courageous: As the Tätowierer, he is granted special privileges and manages to smuggle food to starving prisoners. Through female prisoners who catalog the belongings confiscated from fellow inmates, Lale gains access to jewels, which he trades to a pair of local villagers for chocolate, medicine, and other items. Meanwhile, despite overwhelming odds, Lale and Gita are able to meet privately from time to time and become lovers. In 1944, just ahead of the arrival of Russian troops, Lale and Gita separately leave the concentration camp and experience harrowingly close calls. Suffice it to say they both survive. To her credit, the author doesn’t flinch from describing the depravity of the SS in Auschwitz and the unimaginable suffering of their victims—no gauzy evasions here, as in Boy in the Striped Pajamas. She also manages to raise, if not really explore, some trickier issues—the guilt of those Jews, like the tattooist, who survived by doing the Nazis’ bidding, in a sense betraying their fellow Jews; and the complicity of those non-Jews, like the Slovaks in Lale’s hometown, who failed to come to the aid of their beleaguered countrymen.

The writing is merely serviceable, and one can’t help but wish the author had found a way to present her material as nonfiction. Still, this is a powerful, gut-wrenching tale that is hard to shake off.

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-279715-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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