As a Catholic who has been following the news out of Rome for a while, I wasn't really expecting any surprises, and I was a bit worried I'd see a lot of bias. To the contrary, this book manages to be respectful without pandering, informative, and took me much deeper than what I had gleaned from the last decade or so of headlines. There were several issues I'd never heard of (JP II and self punishment for example), and several others I'd never realised the extent of (the archeological dig related to the parking garage for example). I found the writing style engaging and entertaining, though there were some dry sections. I found it a rewarding read, and recommend it.
My reading interests lie in mysteries, history, religion and theology, historical fiction amongst other topics.
I would definitely listen to this again, as I think that there are some things that I may have missed the first time around.
Malcolm Hillgartner has a wonderful voice that is easy to listen to and knows how to use inflection and tones to engage the listener. The Latin and Italian phrases and words that exist in the text he pronounces easily as if he were a native speaker.
This was the first time I had listened to a book read by Malcolm Hillgartner and would definitely be interested in other books read by him.
Listening to this helped me to understand how the Vatican works on it's "own times' and also allowed me to be able to appreciate Pope Benedict XVI's time "in office", despite not being a Catholic.
The stories bounce back and forth from JP2 and B16 but are easy to follow.
I haven't read the print version - that's why I listen to Audiobooks - to listen to books I don't have time to read. . . "too many books/too little time!"
Not that I recall - but I will add him to my list of good narrators.
After listening to the first few minutes of this book I was a little concerned with both the narration and the story, which I feared was going to be dull and monotone.But within 5 or 10 minutes I was really surprised. It quickly turned into an unbelievably entertaining listen - containing a perfect blend of drama and humour - and it was very well read. For someone who doesn't know much about the Roman Catholic church, the Pope or the Vatican, but keeps tabs on the news, it was just a very interesting and entertaining look at the workings and stories that make the Vatican so interesting to people in no way affiliated with the Catholic church; and it was done so in an educated-reality-TV-cum-PBS-documentary sort of a way. Finally, to me the narrator, can make or break an audiobook; and in this instance he really contributed to an entertaining listen.
Pope Benedict's resignation sparked my interest on this topic, and I got this book to help me understand what internal challenges the Catholic church is facing. It did give me a better feel for some of the personalities; my sympathy for Pope Benedict has been augmented. I did not feel, however, that any of the information was 'behind the scenes'. I felt like most of the book was less about the Vatican and more about reporting on the Catholic church. It's something of a Vatican journalist's travelogue in places. On the plus side, I felt like the author was not looking to excoriate or embarrass, and is probably even a little sympathetic to the church. In the end I am slightly less cynical about the power structure in Rome.
This audio book is like listening to National Enquirer level journalism, filled with opinions, presumption, and gossip. I expected to hear some credible new ‘vatileaks’ info presented in a rational manner, but instead received old information combined with gossip and secular opinions. If you listen to this book, you’d constantly notice how journalist John Thavin stretches bits of information, leaves out pertinent facts, and attempts to misrepresent the Church.
For example, Thavin portrays the Catholic Church as a system of injustice and sexual crimes by using the sins of a handful of bad priests, gossip, and various opinions to lead the reader into thinking that the majority of priests must be gay or sexual predators. But in his book, he downplays the 2008 US government report that only 0.03% of priests were involved in pedophilia cases, he downplays the fact that gay priests can no longer be ordained, he does not mention the German criminologist report that 99.9% of sexual abuse crimes come from outside the Catholic Church, and he does not mention the Protestant Christian Science Monitor report that protestant denominations are affected by a much higher rate of pedophilia cases than those in the Catholic Church.
Anyway, the Catholic Church is looking really good as we make the necessary changes to prevent those individual incidents from happening again.. If you go to the Vatican you will see all that the Catholic Church is actively doing to prevent future incidents, and help victims (none of which are discussed in the book). In other words, if you are looking for facts and a well balanced constructive analysis you'd be better off doing a Google search… Have faith!
Besides incessant listening to audiobooks, I also read on my Kindle at night, birdwatch, garden (roses, daylilies), and do genealogy.
I had expected a bit more on the current crisis the Vatican is facing, that of priests as molesters. While it was addressed on a limited basis, after reflection, I realized that it would be extremely difficult for any author to really know the extent and ins and outs of this apparently longstanding problem due to various obvious issues.
That being said, I very much enjoyed this listen. I never thought much about the politics of the Vatican or the encompassing power struggles going on in the Church at any time. This book was quite an eye opener for me and interesting all the way through. It addresses many current issues in a neutral, non-biased fashion.
Hillgartner does an excellent narration. Over all, I would recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in the workings and politics of the Vatican.
Malcolm has truly captured my attention, the book is well narrated, he brings to life the chronicles that John Thavis writes about and as a born Catholic it is an eye opener to the one Pope that I truly admired, but it also brings home that those who govern our religion are truly only men and with that comes their strengths and faults.
I found the content quite interesting, especially considering I was listening to it simultaneously while the new Pope was chosen. Perhaps a Catholic would have a much more relevant review, but I did find the minute details tedious at times. Overall I found the book enlightening, but not surprising, that this 'holy' group of men would be as salacious, politically-motivated, and game-playing as any other group. Men are men.
yes, especially the die-hard Catholics
not be Catholic, and to educate others
This is not a book that extols the virtues of Catholicism or the wonderful works of Catholic charitable organizations. It focuses on how the Vatican operated during the papacies of John Paul II and Benedict XVI from a reporters point of view. In that light, it is an interesting and very timely read for anyone who is interested in the behind the scenes workings of the Vatican. The author presents a balanced point of view and projects thoughtfulness as well as critical analysis of a number of high profile issues that have cast doubt and suspicion upon the Catholic Church in recent years. While he doesn't delve into every recent high profile scandal, he does report on some that are well known and others that are not so well known. Definitely worth the time if you're fascinated by church politics. The timing of the release of this book, just as Benedict announced his retirement and before the election of Francis, made it a most timely read.