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

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9780375706059: The Popes Against the Jews: The Vatican's Role in the Rise of Modern Anti-Semitism
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In this meticulously researched, unflinching, and reasoned study, National Book Award finalist David I. Kertzer presents shocking revelations about the role played by the Vatican in the development of modern anti-Semitism. Working in long-sealed Vatican archives, Kertzer unearths startling evidence to undermine the Church’s argument that it played no direct role in the spread of modern anti-Semitism. In doing so, he challenges the Vatican’s recent official statement on the subject, We Remember. Kertzer tells an unsettling story that has stirred up controversy around the world and sheds a much-needed light on the past.

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The Vatican's 1998 report "We Remember: A Reflection on the Shoah" purportedly exonerated the Church of complicity in the Holocaust. In The Popes Against the Jews, David I. Kertzer argues that the report is "not the product of a Church that wants to confront its history." Kertzer's book refutes the Church's thesis that the Holocaust grew out of "an anti-Judaism that was essentially more sociological and political than religious." In fact, Kertzer asserts, those dimensions of European anti-Semitism developed "in no small part due to the efforts of the Roman Catholic Church itself." The racial laws of fascist Italy and the Nuremberg Laws of 1930s Germany, for example, were directly modeled on the Church's own rules governing treatment of Jews: until the collapse of the Papal States in the late 19th century, Jews living in these territories were forced to wear yellow badges and live in ghettos. Kertzer's arguments make for compelling reading because they're presented in story form, based on the actions of the popes themselves. Access to long-sealed Church archives allowed Kertzer to reconstruct some of the most shocking, secret conversations that occurred in the Vatican in the decades leading up to World War II. --Michael Joseph Gross

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“Important. . . . Fascinating. . . . [A] riveting piece of historical detective work.” --The New York Times

“Scrupulous....Significant and compelling.” —The Washington Post

“The material is dynamite.” --The Times (London)

Popes Against the Jews . . . demolishes the findings of We Remember.” --The Boston Globe

“This reviewer is grateful to Kertzer for having written such a compelling narrative. His thesis is shocking and disturbing. . . . An important book.” --The Irish Times

“Riveting.” -- Globe & Mail (Toronto)

“Kertzer [has the] extraordinary ability to present the most painful, religiously radioactive material with a coolness that makes his findings . . . devastating. . . . Its superb, meticulous scholarship is a benchmark by which other books on the subject must now be judged.” The Forward

“A profoundly well-documented book. . . . It is a work of brilliant narrative quality, an oppressive, unremitting and enraging report on what may be the most lethal period of official and quasi-official Catholic anti-Semitism.” --Providence Journal

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9780375406232: The Popes Against the Jews: The Vatican's Role in the Rise of Modern Anti-Semitism

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