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The Vatican Pimpernel tells the story of Vatican Priest Hugh O'Flaherty's courageous operation for safeguarding escaped POWs during the 1942-44 Nazi occupation of Italy. Risking assassination attempts and constant harassment, O'Flaherty flitted through Rome in various disguises, establishing POW safe houses under the very nose of the local SS. Seasoned actor Brian Troxell captures the frenetic pace of war as the clergyman pursues his task with relentless focus and devotion. Troxell imbues O'Flaherty with the soft-spoken humility and selflessness listeners might well expect of one in his profession, while nevertheless delivering a performance rife with urgency and fast-paced action.
An inspiring true story of bravery and faith.
During the German occupation of Rome from 1942-1944, Irishman Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty ran an escape organization for Allied POWs and civilians, including Jews. Safe within the Vatican state, he regularly ventured out in disguise to continue his mission, which earned him the nickname 'The Pimpernel of the Vatican'.
When the Allies entered Rome, he and his collaborators - priests, nuns, and laypeople of numerous nationalities and religious beliefs - had saved the lives of over 6,500 people.
The first new telling of this extraordinary story in decades, this book also addresses the fascinating dichotomy between O’Flaherty and Herbert Kappler, the Gestapo chief in Rome who ordered him killed, and who, after the war, reconciled with the monsignor, and even asked him to perform his baptism.
For his heroic efforts, O’Flaherty was awarded the highest honors, including a Congressional Medal, and was the first Irishman named the Notary of the Holy Office. His story was immortalized in the 1983 film The Scarlet and the Black, which starred Gregory Peck as O’Flaherty.
This is quite the interesting and delightful biography. If this is an accurate portrait for the man, then Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty would be one of the most Christian men of his generation and many others. This biography is built primarily from sources other than the Monsignor himself who only gave one interview concerning his risky activities during World War II. There are other books concerning the escape organization from Italy during the War, written by the participants, but none by the Monsignor. It appears that those that worked with him in the organization held him in great reverence. It's also clear that despite temptation that he lived mostly other than his love of golf, which he was apparently quite good at. The book is very concise but draws a full picture of the man. I can see why he was honored by so many nations for his work.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
I found this to be a fascinating story about an event I knew little about. I do remember in several of W.E.B. Griffin’s historical novels he mentioned a Vatican priest that was rescuing allied soldiers and Jews. I did not follow up and check to see it he was a fictional character or not.
The book is a biography of Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty (1898-1963). He was an Irish Roman Catholic priest and senior official of the Roman Caria in Rome and a significant figure in Catholic resistance to Nazism. During WWII, he was responsible for saving 6500 allied soldiers and Jews from the Nazi.
Fleming covers his early life but details most excitedly the cat and mouse game between O’Flaherty and the Gestapo and Sicherheitsdienst. He evaded the Gestapo traps so successfully they called him “The Scarlet Pimpernel of the Vatican.”
Ireland was a neutral country during WWII and had the only English speaking Embassy in Rome. The wife of the Ambassador, Delia Murphy, was a key helper of O’Flaherty’s at great risk to herself and the Embassy.
Apparently they made a T.V. movie of this story starring Gregory Peck in 1983, titled “The Scarlet and the Black”. I shall have to check Amazon and see if they have it; I think I would like to watch it after reading this exciting book.
I read this as an e-book download from Amazon using the Kindle app on my iPad. It came as a whispersync to the audio format with Brian Troxell narrating it. The e-book is 224 pages and the release date is 2012.
7 of 8 people found this review helpful
I had expected more novel-like narration, but I did not expect the level of research and citation. This book is wonderfully well written and a beautiful piece of history from an ugly time.
5 of 6 people found this review helpful
It was written by a former member of the Irish Legislature, and is historical documentation.
Msr Hugh O'Flaherty was an Irish priest assigned to the Vatican before and during WW 2. He was also charismatic, a master manipulator, a practicing Christian, highly skilled at organizing and implementing the rescue and safety of escaped prisoners of war, despite frequent opposition by his own as well as the obvious. He drew like-minded people to himself and his goals, and they worked together to establish a warren of safe houses and a seemingly endless supply of funds to keep the persecuted alive until Italy and Rome were liberated from their dictator as well as the Nazis. The beginning is devoted to backstory and a chronicle of those who would become a part of this telling, whether positive or negative. The remainder is a compilation of successive events and occurrences well worth knowing.
Brian Troxell does a creditable job of narration.
Purchased on the cheap as Whispersync through BookGorilla.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
One of the best books I've ever had the pleasure of reading! Monsignor O'Flaherty is a true hero . He is an altruistic man who put the lives of others before his own and saved a multitude of prisoners of war. A great book, I recommend it to everyone! you will not be disappointed.
2 of 3 people found this review helpful
great for people remember that the majority of priests are very good people and they want to help their fellow man. And it's a Catholic Church that made society and kept Society going through all the hard times in the world thank you to the Pope Vatican the priest and all fellow Catholics
The book was recommended to me by my 87 year old father. What an incredible, inspiring account of a truly selfless Monsignor. I had heard vague stories of what was done for Jews in and around Rome in WWII, but this recounts the heroism of so many involved and their mercy toward not only Jews, but anti-Fascist and escaped POWs. It's amazing what someone can do when they take themselves out of the equation.
What did you like best about this story?
That so many ordinary people exercised their faith and helped save the lives of so many people!
What aspect of Brian Troxell’s performance would you have changed?
I'm not sure whether he was attempting to mimic an Irish accent or simply reading the text the way it was written but I have a friend who is a native Chinese speaker and I'd bet his Irish accent was more believable then Brian's. I was also disappointed at how little he seemed to try to change his voice to differentiate between characters. Fortunately, the story stands on its own.
This is a man and a story that needs to be known! This should be required reading in school for everyone in the US, UK, and Ireland.
What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?
A different narrator.
What was one of the most memorable moments of The Vatican Pimpernel?
The continued mispronunciations and bad accents
Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Brian Troxell?
Any one who was willing to put in the time necessary to do a good job.
You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?
Yes the story itself is intriguing and well written.
Any additional comments?
This otherwise good composition was undermined by the narrator who appears to have done little by way of study. Being an American, the narrator could be forgiven for mispronouncing “Taoiseach” or the “Oireachtas” however, in a book about a fellow named Hugh O’Flaherty, it is astonishing that the narrator could not pronounce “O’Flaherty.” Instead, like incessantly hitting a bad note on a piano during the recital of a piece of classical music, the narrator repeats “O’FLAIR-riddy” over and over and over. <br/><br/>Eventually one loses track of the point of the narrative and instead focuses on the narrator’s poor performance, and continued mispronunciations. <br/><br/>The narrator then compounds this problem with multiple attempts at what he apparently believes is an Irish accent – an accent that comes out more like a cross between a Somerset farmer and Australian drover. It is clear the narrator has never actually ever heard a Kerry accent, and has apparently taken his exemplar from US TV shows that purport to have Irish characters.<br/><br/>I have little doubt the author of the book is not at all happy with the sloppy work of the narrator. I would not recommend the selection to anyone; either buy the actual hard copy or wait for another narrator. <br/>
0 of 1 people found this review helpful