A riveting history and valuable lesson for our time about the perils of neutrality.



A deeply troubling indictment of the cautious pope who acceded in 1939 and remained “neutral” during the Fascist and Nazi wartime regimes.

In this meticulously researched book, historian Kertzer, who has written extensively on modern papal history (The Pope and Mussolini, The Popes Against the Jews, etc.), makes good use of newly opened wartime archives, sealed since Pius XII’s death in 1958. The evidence of Pius’ silence in the face of repeated calls to stop the atrocities against the Jews and others by the Nazis and Fascists is absolutely damning. Eugenio Pacelli had been Pius XI’s loyal secretary of state, and he spent considerable time appeasing the Nazis since they came to power in 1933—e.g., engineering a concordat with Hitler. Pius XI, who in the early years of his papacy helped Mussolini solidify his dictatorship, eventually became alarmed with the Italian dictator’s ever tightening embrace of the Nazi regime and was indeed becoming outspokenly problematic for the two closest Axis powers. When Pius XI died in February 1939, the ever cautious, scholarly, German-speaking Pacelli became pope—and the best ally the two dictators could hope for. Throughout World War II, he maintained a timorous disposition in the face of their increasing aggression—Kertzer reminds us that “Hitler had long viewed the Duce as his role model”—despite the piles of documentation that reveal how he was frequently informed of the brutalities committed by the Nazis and their willing collaborators. During this time, countless victims beseeched him to stand up and do something as a moral leader. The pope, casting himself as a peacemaker, managed to play his cards skillfully even when the Allies invaded and took pains not to bomb the Vatican. As a result, the institution of the Catholic Church emerged largely unscathed from the war, effectively scrubbing clean its Fascist and Nazi collaboration. Kertzer is to be commended for bringing it all to light in page-turning fashion.

A riveting history and valuable lesson for our time about the perils of neutrality.

Pub Date: June 7, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8994-6

Page Count: 672

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2022

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.



The veteran actor, comedian, and banjo player teams up with the acclaimed illustrator to create a unique book of cartoons that communicates their personalities.

Martin, also a prolific author, has always been intrigued by the cartoons strewn throughout the pages of the New Yorker. So when he was presented with the opportunity to work with Bliss, who has been a staff cartoonist at the magazine since 1997, he seized the moment. “The idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me,” he writes. “I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny.” Once the duo agreed to work together, they established their creative process, which consisted of working forward and backward: “Forwards was me conceiving of several cartoon images and captions, and Harry would select his favorites; backwards was Harry sending me sketched or fully drawn cartoons for dialogue or banners.” Sometimes, he writes, “the perfect joke occurs two seconds before deadline.” There are several cartoons depicting this method, including a humorous multipanel piece highlighting their first meeting called “They Meet,” in which Martin thinks to himself, “He’ll never be able to translate my delicate and finely honed droll notions.” In the next panel, Bliss thinks, “I’m sure he won’t understand that the comic art form is way more subtle than his blunt-force humor.” The team collaborated for a year and created 150 cartoons featuring an array of topics, “from dogs and cats to outer space and art museums.” A witty creation of a bovine family sitting down to a gourmet meal and one of Dumbo getting his comeuppance highlight the duo’s comedic talent. What also makes this project successful is the team’s keen understanding of human behavior as viewed through their unconventional comedic minds.

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-26289-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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