Saints and Sinners: A History of the Popes

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9780300073324: Saints and Sinners: A History of the Popes

Fifty black-and-white and one hundred color illustrations accompany a history of the Papacy--the companion volume to a French-British television series--from its development after the execution of Peter to the reign of Pope John Paul II. UP.

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Review:

Saints and Sinners: A History of the Popes, by Eamon Duffy, is a wonder of comprehensive compression--a sumptuously illustrated, one-volume history of one of the most influential human institutions in world history. Duffy's lively portraits of the 261 scholars, scoundrels, and spiritual guides who have led the Roman Catholic Church are embedded in six historical essays that proceed chronologically from St. Peter to John Paul II. Duffy, a reader in church history and fellow at Cambridge, writes in the mannered yet affable tone of an avuncular English don. His narrative and arguments convey his own Catholic conviction that "the story of the popes is a crucial dimension of the providential care of God for humankind throughout history." Yet he also offers candid assessments of papal moral failings, including spectacular failures such as the orchestration of the Spanish Inquisition and the willed ignorance of Germany's Third Reich. Duffy's glossary of theological terms ensures that no secular reader will be lost in Christian arcana, and his excellent bibliographical essay will help motivated students zero in on the best resources for learning more about any period of Catholic history. For readers primarily concerned with current events, his analysis of John Paul II's papacy is extraordinarily useful and refreshingly free of cant. "To many people Pope John Paul seems a backward-looking figure, a man attempting to force a champagne cork back into the bottle," Duffy writes. "To others, he points the way towards a recovery of balance, a restoration of order and true faith in the flux of time. Only time, and the next conclave, will reveal which of these directions in their long walk through history the heirs of St. Peter will take." --Michael Joseph Gross

From the Back Cover:

Praise for the earlier edition: "[A] minor masterpiece which is everything good, popular history ought to be. . . . The most comprehensive single-volume history of the popes in print."—John Adamson, Sunday Telegraph "The best one-volume history of the papacy ever written."—T. F. X. Noble "Duffy enlivens the long march through church history with anecdotes that bring the different pontiffs to life. . . . Saints and Sinners is a remarkable achievement."—Piers Paul Read, The Times (London) "A distinguished text . . . offering plenty of historical facts and sobering, valuable judgments."—Henry Chadwick, New York Times Book Review "Will intrigue the faithful as well as the skeptical."—Economist "A wonderful history of the popes . . . a book that will fascinate anyone wishing to better understand the history of the Catholic Church and the forces that have shaped the role of the papacy."—Gloria J. Tysl, Christian Century Inside pages "Duffy's sprightly and sometimes anecdotal style moves the reader effortlessly through the centuries, highlighting popes whose tenure changed the shape of the papacy."—Donald L. Gelpi, America "[A] fine survey of the papacy."—Gary Wills, New York Review of Books "A grand and critical overview of an institution which Duffy believes has been 'on balance a force for human freedom and largeness of spirit'."—Patrick Collins, Times Literary Supplement "This new book offers the most comprehensive one-volume history in English of the popes from ancient times to the pontificate of John Paul II. . . [Duffy's] account is judicious and fair throughout."—Robert Louis Wilken, Commonweal "A compelling introduction to one of the most durable and significant institutions to influence the course of Western civilizations."—Booklist "An outstanding work."—Peter Stanford, The Daily Telegraph "This is as fair-minded, as full and as interesting a survey as a one-volume history of the papacy can be expected to be. Clear, elegant and lively, the book is very readable. It is a stunning achievement, to be grateful for."—R.A. Markus, The Tablet "An excellent college-level reference."—The Bookwatch "Lively and informative read. . . Duffy peoples his story with real men, and casts interesting, sometimes poignant light on their lives."—Jerry Bartram, Globe and Mail "The history of the papacy is a fascinating study whether you consider it theologically, politically, or economically. Duffy offers a masterful blending of all three in this beautiful book."—Catholic News Service "The story has all the ingredients of a best-seller. Love, lust, nail-biting struggles for power, a passion for goodness, sometimes an almost equal appetite for evil."—Mario Basini, The Western Mail "A wonderful study of heroism and flawed humanity."—John Morrill, Catholic Herald "The narrative is full of charming vignettes. . . deserves to be sipped like good wine."—Thomas Shelley, Church

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