Mr. O'Connor is as accomplished a journalist as he is a perceptive observer of the human comedy, and this book does justice to both those capabilities. The People versus Rome is a survey of the temper of American Catholicism as well as a description of it. The overall conclusion, based upon conversations with American Catholics from cardinals and bishops to cops and housewives, is that the American Church, or at least the part of it that counts -- i.e., the people -- are fed up with ""Romanism""; that is, they condemn the petty rules, irrationalities, intrigues and personality cults that are part and parcel of the institutional church. The inevitable outcome of such disenchantment, Mr. O'Connor believes, can be only the ""Gotterdammerung of the clericalistic class within the Church."" In other words, ""for the Roman Catholic Church to live, its churches must die, the papacy be pulled down from its Constantinian heights...."" Strong words, indeed; but no less strong than the sentiments that the author records as endemic among American Catholics. The whole is leavened by a healthy infusion of ecclesiastical gossip -- who is not speaking to whom and why, who has designs upon the episcopal throne of Boston, etc. -- which is sometimes tinged with malice but which always makes for lively reading. This book should attract a good deal of attention in the Catholic press and some in the general media.