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The Vatican Diaries: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Power, Personalities, and Politics at the Heart of the Catholic Church | [John Thavis]

The Vatican Diaries: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Power, Personalities, and Politics at the Heart of the Catholic Church

For more than 25 years John Thavis held one of the most fascinating journalistic jobs in the world: reporting on the inner workings of the Vatican. His daily exposure to the power, politics, and personalities in the seat of Roman Catholicism gave him a unique, behind-the-scenes perspective on an institution that is far less monolithic and unified than it first appears. Thavis reveals Vatican City as a place where Curia cardinals fight private wars, scandals threaten to undermine papal authority, and reverence for the past is continually upended by the practical considerations of modern life.
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Publisher's Summary

A revealing inside look at one of the world’s most powerful and mysterious institutions

For more than 25 years John Thavis held one of the most fascinating journalistic jobs in the world: reporting on the inner workings of the Vatican. His daily exposure to the power, politics, and personalities in the seat of Roman Catholicism gave him a unique, behind-the-scenes perspective on an institution that is far less monolithic and unified than it first appears. Thavis reveals Vatican City as a place where Curia cardinals fight private wars, scandals threaten to undermine papal authority, and reverence for the past is continually upended by the practical considerations of modern life.

Thavis takes listeners from a bell tower high above St. Peter’s to the depths of the basilica and the saint’s burial place, from the politicking surrounding the election of a new pope and the ever-growing sexual abuse scandals around the world to controversies about the Vatican’s stand on contraception and more.

Perceptive, sharply written, and witty, The Vatican Diaries will appeal not only to Catholics - lapsed as well as devout - but to anyone interested in international diplomacy and the role of religion in an increasingly secularized world.

©2013 John Thavis (P)2013 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"A seasoned reporter on the Vatican beat takes us for an irreverent and revealing visit. Frequently from the vantage of the reportorial fly on the wall, Thavis…concentrates on the history he has witnessed firsthand.… Especially provocative are the chapters dealing with the mismanagement of diverse sex scandals and, finally, an appraisal of the opaque personality of Benedict.… Not only provocative, this report is illuminating and fully accessible to members of the faith and doubters alike." (Kirkus Reviews)

"Thavis’ anecdotal presentation will appeal to readers seeking understanding of or connection with the Catholic Church’s heart. This book is recommended for anyone who would like to challenge their own notions and perceptions of the Vatican." (Library Journal)

What Members Say

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  •  
    Linda 02-28-13
    Linda 02-28-13 Member Since 2011

    Linda in Omaha

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    "A neutral look at inner workings of the Vatican"

    I found this book faciniating. It is a report of the inner workings of the Vatican including the homesexual, child abuse, and financial problems the Church faces. The author neither praises nor condems the actions taking place in the hierarchy of the Vatican. The book is rich in the histrory of the Catholic Church and of recent popes. I learned a lot.

    I appreciated that the author did not appear to have an "agenda" regarding the Vatican. The tone was neutral. I would recommend this book highly.

    Well done.

    19 of 20 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeanette Hampton, VA, United States 04-01-13
    Jeanette Hampton, VA, United States 04-01-13
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    "Extremely Compelling; Especially Relevant"
    Where does The Vatican Diaries rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    One of the most concise, cogent audiobooks I've listened to.


    What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

    Highlighted as it was by Audible, just after the news of Pope Benedict's abdication, this was especially relevant. Although published months before the Pope's announcement, "The Vatican Diaries" sheds much light on the Benedict's papacy and the likely true reasons behind his historical resignation. Had I listened to this earlier, it wouldn't have come as a surprise when it happened.

    The stories John Thavis relates are sometimes comic, sometimes tragic, always incredible. Time and again I found myself hitting the 30 seconds back button thinking, "I must not have heard that right - it couldn't be." Every time I had heard it right and I was simply incredulous.


    Have you listened to any of Malcolm Hillgartner’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    Malcolm Hilgartner's performance is a masterpiece of subtly. With slight inflections and just the right amount of accent, he slips smoothly between the author's narration and the many other characters we encounter - from Popes and Cardinals to reporters and "bell ringers." He makes this book come alive.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    As a Roman Catholic at times I was upset by Thavis's frank and honest recording of events. Bust as they say,"Sometimes the truth hurts."


    Any additional comments?

    This is "must listening" for Roman Catholics and others who want to understand the forces at work inside that Vatican and the Church. It provides a foundation for understanding what Pope Francis is now doing and why. As events unfold in Rome I am sure I will be re-listening to various chapters to put it all in context.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Scott 04-07-13
    Scott 04-07-13
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    "A Surprisingly Great Listen"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Vatican Diaries to be better than the print version?

    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!"


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Not Applicable


    Have you listened to any of Malcolm Hillgartner’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    Not that I recall - but I will add him to my list of good narrators.


    What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

    Not Applicable


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer YUBA CITY, CA, United States 03-27-13
    Amazon Customer YUBA CITY, CA, United States 03-27-13
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    "history in catholism"
    What did you love best about The Vatican Diaries?

    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.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer NORTH LIBERTY, IN, United States 03-26-13
    Amazon Customer NORTH LIBERTY, IN, United States 03-26-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Tedious at times, from a non-Catholic"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    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.


    Would you recommend The Vatican Diaries to your friends? Why or why not?

    yes, especially the die-hard Catholics


    Have you listened to any of Malcolm Hillgartner’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    no


    Did The Vatican Diaries inspire you to do anything?

    not be Catholic, and to educate others


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kevin 03-21-13
    Kevin 03-21-13 Member Since 2010

    Husband, Dad, Principal, Adjunct prof, RC Deacon, radio co-host, story teller, NYer, walker, & occasional sipper of fine whisk(e)y,

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    "interesting behind the scenes look at the Vatican"

    Enjoy the jaunt through Vatican City. Clearly Thavis is a friend of the Church, but isn't afraid to show some of the less than admirable underbelly of the Vatican

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bill STATEN ISLAND, NY, United States 03-05-13
    Bill STATEN ISLAND, NY, United States 03-05-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Timely book with a few great chapters"
    Any additional comments?

    This behind-the-scene's view of the Vatican is at times at times tedious, and at times intriguiging. Overall it is informative and very interesting. The portraits of the last two popes is most insightful.For those following the the conclave it is well worth listening to.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathy Davis, CA, United States 07-02-14
    Kathy Davis, CA, United States 07-02-14 Member Since 2008

    Newly retired, I am a reading fiend! I like many types of books, both fiction and non-fiction, with the exception of romance and fantasy

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Fascinating stuff!"

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brenda 03-18-13
    Brenda 03-18-13
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    "Timely and Well Balanced"

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    loix Pittsburgh, PA, United States 03-10-13
    loix Pittsburgh, PA, United States 03-10-13 Member Since 2004
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    "Timely, but disjointed"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    The vignettes should at the very least have been ordered chronologically. Also, the book would have benefited from glosses for the specialized vocabulary items (at least when an item appeared for the first time); as it is, it felt like the author was more intent on showing off rather than showing the reader around.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The Latin teacher!


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    No, unless the movie focused on a particular vignette, like that of the Latin teacher, who seemed absolutely fascinating. The movie would be too Altman-like otherwise--disjointed and fragmented.


    Any additional comments?

    Very timely book!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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