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Amalias Tale

by David I. Kertzer

This quintessential David-and-Goliath saga tells the story of a wholly unexpected triumph of the poor against the rich and of a crusading city attorney who fought on behalf of an impoverished peasant. Amalia Bagnacavalli, an illiterate young peasant from the mountains near Bologna, is forced by poverty to take in a child from the city's foundling home to wet-nurse. When Amalia contracts syphilis from the sickly and malformed baby given to her, the city fathers callously dismiss her pleas for treatment and restitution. Bewildered and frightened, she seeks out Augusto Barbieri, an ambitious attorney looking to make a name for himself. He takes up Amalia's cause, fighting the case for years through the Italian courts before winning an unprecedented and stunning victory for his by now broken client. The unforgettable story of a landmark struggle for basic human rights, Amalia's Tale is the moving drama of a rural woman whose life was ruined and the man from the city who would not stop -- or so it seemed -- until he had seen justice done.

The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara

by David I. Kertzer

National Book Award Finalist Bologna: nightfall, June 1858. A knock sounds at the door of the Jewish merchant Momolo Mortara. Two officers of the Inquisition bust inside and seize Mortara's six-year-old son, Edgardo. As the boy is wrenched from his father's arms, his mother collapses. The reason for his abduction: the boy had been secretly "baptized" by a family servant. According to papal law, the child is therefore a Catholic who can be taken from his family and delivered to a special monastery where his conversion will be completed. With this terrifying scene, prize-winning historian David I. Kertzer begins the true story of how one boy's kidnapping became a pivotal event in the collapse of the Vatican as a secular power. The book evokes the anguish of a modest merchant's family, the rhythms of daily life in a Jewish ghetto, and also explores, through the revolutionary campaigns of Mazzini and Garibaldi and such personages as Napoleon III, the emergence of Italy as a modern national state. Moving and informative, the Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara reads as both a historical thriller and an authoritative analysis of how a single human tragedy changed the course of history.(From the Trade Paperback edition.)

The Pope and Mussolini

by David I. Kertzer

From National Book Award finalist David I. Kertzer comes the gripping story of Pope Pius XI's secret relations with Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. This groundbreaking work, based on seven years of research in the Vatican and Fascist archives, including reports from Mussolini's spies inside the highest levels of the Church, will forever change our understanding of the Vatican's role in the rise of Fascism in Europe. The Pope and Mussolini tells the story of two men who came to power in 1922, and together changed the course of twentieth-century history. In most respects, they could not have been more different. One was scholarly and devout, the other thuggish and profane. Yet Pius XI and "Il Duce" had many things in common. They shared a distrust of democracy and a visceral hatred of Communism. Both were prone to sudden fits of temper and were fiercely protective of the prerogatives of their office. ("We have many interests to protect," the Pope declared, soon after Mussolini seized control of the government in 1922.) Each relied on the other to consolidate his power and achieve his political goals. In a challenge to the conventional history of this period, in which a heroic Church does battle with the Fascist regime, Kertzer shows how Pius XI played a crucial role in making Mussolini's dictatorship possible and keeping him in power. In exchange for Vatican support, Mussolini restored many of the privileges the Church had lost and gave in to the pope's demands that the police enforce Catholic morality. Yet in the last years of his life--as the Italian dictator grew ever closer to Hitler--the pontiff's faith in this treacherous bargain started to waver. With his health failing, he began to lash out at the Duce and threatened to denounce Mussolini's anti-Semitic racial laws before it was too late. Horrified by the threat to the Church-Fascist alliance, the Vatican's inner circle, including the future Pope Pius XII, struggled to restrain the headstrong pope from destroying a partnership that had served both the Church and the dictator for many years. The Pope and Mussolini brims with memorable portraits of the men who helped enable the reign of Fascism in Italy: Father Pietro Tacchi Venturi, Pius's personal emissary to the dictator, a wily anti-Semite known as Mussolini's Rasputin; Victor Emmanuel III, the king of Italy, an object of widespread derision who lacked the stature--literally and figuratively--to stand up to the domineering Duce; and Cardinal Secretary of State Eugenio Pacelli, whose political skills and ambition made him Mussolini's most powerful ally inside the Vatican, and positioned him to succeed the pontiff as the controversial Pius XII, whose actions during World War II would be subject for debate for decades to come. With the recent opening of the Vatican archives covering Pius XI's papacy, the full story of the Pope's complex relationship with his Fascist partner can finally be told. Vivid, dramatic, with surprises at every turn, The Pope and Mussolini is history writ large and with the lightning hand of truth. Advance praise for The Pope and Mussolini "David Kertzer has an eye for a story, an ear for the right word, and an instinct for human tragedy. They all come together in The Pope and Mussolini to document, with meticulous scholarship and novelistic flair, the complicity between Pius XI and the Fascist leader in creating an unholy alliance between the Vatican and a totalitarian government rooted in corruption and brutality. This is a sophisticated blockbuster."--Joseph J. Ellis, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Revolutionary Summer

The Popes Against the Jews: The Vatican's Role in the Rise of Modern Anti-Semitism

by David I. Kertzer

A groundbreaking historical study based on documents previously locked in the Vatican's secret archives: The Popes Against the Jews graphically shows how the Catholic Church helped make the Holocaust possible. Pope John Paul II, as part of his effort to improve Catholic-Jewish relations, has himself called for a clear-eyed historical investigation into any possible link be-tween the Church and the Holocaust. An important sign of his commitment was the recent decision to allow the distinguished historian David I. Kertzer, a specialist in Italian history, to be one of the first scholars given access to long-sealed Vatican archives. The result is a book filled with shocking revelations. It traces the Vatican's role in the development of modern anti-Semitism from the nineteenth century up to the outbreak of the Second World War. Kertzer shows why all the recent attention given to Pope Pius XII's failure to publicly protest the slaughter of Europe's Jews in the war misses a far more important point. What made the Holocaust possible was groundwork laid over a period of decades. In this campaign of demonization of the Jews--identifying them as traitors to their countries, enemies of all that was good, relentlessly pursuing world domination--the Vatican itself played a key role, as is shown here for the first time. Despite its focus, this is not an anti-Catholic book. It seeks a balanced judgment and an understanding of the historical forces that led the Church along the path it took. Inevitably controversial, written with devastating clarity and dispassionate authority,The Popes Against the Jewsis a book of the greatest importance.

Prisoner of the Vatican

by David I. Kertzer

Praise for David Kertzer and Prisoner of the Vatican: "Kertzer once again proves himself a truly compelling historian. " -- André Aciman "Prisoner of the Vatican reads like exciting fiction. And it has astounding contemporary relevance. " -- Alfred Uhry "Kertzer's careful scholarship and lucid writing make the human character of this religious institution quite clear. " -- James Carroll "Fascinating. " -- Entertainment Weekly "Lively . . . filled with telling anecdotes and colorful descriptions of the various characters involved in the struggle. " -- America, the National Catholic Weekly "Riveting and fast-paced . . . history writing at its best. " -- Publishers Weekly, starred review "[A] rousing tale . . . from a masterful, controversial scholar. " -- Kirkus Reviews, starred review "A chilling and timely warning of what happens when religious power becomes synonymous with political power. If you love Italy, if you love Rome, this book is essential reading. " -- John Guare "As magically spellbinding as it is enlightening, replete with colorful characters and complex international and ecclesiastical politics and intrigue. Kertzer is a national treasure and his latest book another masterpiece. " -- Kevin Madigan, associate professor, Harvard Divinity School "This book is a gift to everyone who welcomes the emergence of buried history, and a boon to anyone who has ever wondered about the origins of the wonderful, tenuously unified place called modern Italy. " -- Tracy Kidder David Kertzer's absorbing history presents an astonishing account of the birth of modern Italy and the clandestine politics behind the Vatican's last stand in the battle between church and the newly created Italian state. Drawing on a wealth of secret documents long buried in the Vatican archives, Kertzer reveals a fascinating story of outrageous accusations, mutual denunciations, raucous demonstrations, and secret dealings. When Italy's armies seized the Holy City and claimed it for the Italian capital, Pope Pius IX, outraged, retreated to the Vatican and declared himself a prisoner, calling on foreign powers to force the Italians out of Rome. The action set in motion decades of political intrigues that hinged on such fascinating characters as Garibaldi, King Viktor Emmanuel, Napoleon III, and Chancellor Bismarck. No one who reads this eye-opening book will ever think of Italy, or the Vatican, in quite the same way again. "A gripping account of this little-known story. " -- Washington Post "A suspenseful and even captivating read . . . Kertzer illuminates one of history's darker corners. " -- Providence Journal "Extraordinary . . . Kertzer describes intrigue, spying, disinformation, and public relations campaigns worthy of any contemporary spy novel. " -- Seattle Times David I. Kertzer is author of several illuminating works of history, including The Popes Against the Jews and The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara, a National Book Award finalist. A professor of anthropology and Italian studies at Brown University, he lives in Providence, Rhode Island.

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