Saturday, February 9, 2013

Kertzer reviews Ventresca's new book on Pius XII

Since it's publication several months ago, Soldier of Christ by Robert Ventresca continues to make very positive headlines throughout the world.  Ventresca may have finally succeeded where many others have come to grief, in writing the a comprehensive and balanced biography of Pius XII using the available material.  In any case Ventresca's book, along with Frank Coppa's slighter volume, look like being the best biographies of Pius for some time to come.  It remains to be seen if another book written after the archives are opened will cause significant change.

Keeping in mind that the archival material for Pius XII's pontificate are still under embargo, until at least later this year according to earlier comments from the ASV, Ventresca's work may have some areas that will need expansion with the help from primary material that could emerge.  However, the review of Ventresca's book that appears in the current online edition of the Jesuit magazine America suggests that this book is balanced, non-polemical, scholarly and built on sound historiography.  The reviewer is David Kertzer of Brown University, Rhode Island, a recognised expert in Vatican-Italian-Jewish history.  

Kertzer's review is positive and offers Ventresca a major plaudit when he says that the author allows the reader to judge for themselves on some of the major issues that have coloured, and which still do, Pacelli's life and papacy.  

I have a copy that I have just started reading and I look forward to the rest of the book.

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