The Age of De-mythologizing goes on relentlessly in Christianity, and now it is the turn of the most myth-laden institution of them all: the Vatican. Alberto Cavallari began the process recently with his Changing Vatican, and now Mr. Nichols picks up where Cavallari left off and completes the job with wit, flair, and perspicacity. Where Cavallari was a journalist, however, Nichols is essentially a commentator, and where the former was a Catholic and an Italian, the latter is an English Protestant. Of the two books, the present work is by far the more satisfying. With a good deal of trenchant humor, Mr. Nichols vivisects the Holy See from bottom to top, probing, analyzing, filling in historical background, synthesizing and commenting on every aspect of the institutional Church from finances to the organization of the diplomatic corps to the personality of the reigning pope. It is not an unsympathetic book; to the contrary, Mr. Nichols is, in many instances, kinder--perhaps because he is more objective--than a Catholic writer would have been. But it is a realistic book that is not afraid to call a spade a spade or a cardinal a kook. Above all, it is a delightfully readable book for all its soundness as a work of what may be called religious sociology. Highly recommended for readers of all denominations or of none at all.