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The Vatican Diaries Audiobook
The Vatican Diaries
Written by: 
John Thavis
Narrated by: 
Malcolm Hillgartner
The Vatican Diaries Audiobook

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

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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

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (207 )
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3.9 (182 )
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4.1 (187 )
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Performance
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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 22 people found this review helpful
  •  
    loix 03-10-13
    loix 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!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Benjamin Burns Landrum, SC USA 03-15-16
    Benjamin Burns Landrum, SC USA 03-15-16 Member Since 2016

    Living Dead

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    "Interesting and Unique Insights With a Few Flaws"
    If you could sum up The Vatican Diaries in three words, what would they be?

    Confused, Interesting, and Insightful. As the words suggest, I felt the book (both its content and narration) were overall enjoyable and worthwhile. However, it suffered from a lack of a clear structure or over-arching narrative to bind together short tales offered by the author (who had a unique insider perspective on many of them). This was somewhat compounded by a narration which was at times lacking for emotion, and at other times tried a bit too hard to give quoted persons stereotypical accents to differentiate them.


    What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

    John Thavis, the author, had a fairly unique opportunity to observe the inner workings of Vatican City and the Catholic Curia for 30 years. Only a small handful of journalists have this kind of assignment, and I am sure most do not stay that long, or form as many profitable relationships with various insiders of all ranks. His tales were all interesting, and inspire a fresh perspective on the sometimes monolithic looking Curia.


    What aspect of Malcolm Hillgartner’s performance would you have changed?

    As I noted above, I wish he had shown a bit more emotion or animation (especially at times when the stories became saddening), while avoiding trying so hard to differentiate the quoted personages with over the top stereotyped accents / voices.

    In general, however, Hillgartner provided a very professional sounding reading.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    I have no idea.


    1 of 1 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

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeanette Hampton, VA, United States 04-01-13
    Jeanette Hampton, VA, United States 04-01-13 Member Since 2015
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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.

    5 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Frank RALEIGH, NC, United States 03-22-13
    Frank RALEIGH, NC, United States 03-22-13
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    "Who among you can cast the first stone??"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    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!


    9 of 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Virginia South Lake Tahoe, CA, United States 07-29-16
    Virginia South Lake Tahoe, CA, United States 07-29-16 Member Since 2011
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    "Look into the Vatican's Closets Full of Skeletons"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Vatican Diaries to be better than the print version?

    I have more time to listen than to read.


    What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

    The fact that the writer had valid credentials and access to the inner halls of the Vatican. It validated for me the truth of what he was reporting.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    Everything you didn't know about the life and power of the Vatican.


    Any additional comments?

    This is one of those books for which I wished I'd had a "cheat sheet" to keep track of who did what and why. I should have kept a note book handy to write down all the names and what they did.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carmen Wheaton, MD, United States 06-04-16
    Carmen Wheaton, MD, United States 06-04-16 Member Since 2012
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    "Interesting and humanizing"

    I am a cradle Catholic, and grew up during, and embraced, the changes of Vatican II. To be told by the right wing of my church community that I have been "doing it all wrong" for decades was not faith-enhancing. The eyewitness reporting of this book has helped me understand the underlying politics of the last couple of decades. This book is not disrespectful, whether you are on the "right" or the "left", unless you find facts offensive. People are human, even if they live in the Vatican.

    John Thavis' prose is clear and he is a good storyteller. Malcolm Hillgartner is a really good narrator, and I will be on the lookout for more of his performances.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jessy Schaffer Reading, Pa 04-13-16
    Jessy Schaffer Reading, Pa 04-13-16 Member Since 2016

    My reading interests lie in mysteries, history, religion and theology, historical fiction amongst other topics.

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    "Interesting "Behind the Scenes""
    Would you listen to The Vatican Diaries again? Why?

    I would definitely listen to this again, as I think that there are some things that I may have missed the first time around.


    What did you like best about this story?

    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.


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

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 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

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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.

    2 of 5 people found this review helpful

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