• Prisoner of the Vatican

  • The Popes' Secret Plot to Capture Rome from the New Italian State
  • By: David I. Kertzer
  • Narrated by: Alan Sklar
  • Length: 13 hrs and 46 mins
  • 3.7 out of 5 stars (68 ratings)

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Prisoner of the Vatican  By  cover art

Prisoner of the Vatican

By: David I. Kertzer
Narrated by: Alan Sklar
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Publisher's summary

Based on a wealth of documents long buried in the Vatican archives, Prisoner of the Vatican tells the story of the Church's secret attempt to block the unification of Italy and seize control, not in ancient times, but in the late 19th century. For more than 50 years, the pope was a self-imposed prisoner within the Vatican walls, planning to flee Italy, to return only as the restored ruler of Rome and the Papal States. The scheme to dismantle the newborn Italian nation involved not only the cardinals and the Curia but also attempts to exploit the rivalries among France, Germany, Austria, Spain, and England.

Kertzer brings to light an untold drama played out among fascinating characters: Pope Pius IX, the most important pontiff in modern history; King Victor Emmanuel, working behind the backs of his own ministers; the dashing national hero Garibaldi; France's ill-starred Napoleon III, and many more. During this time, Italy was besieged from within and without, and Church history changed forever when the pope was declared infallible for the first time.

Prisoner of the Vatican looks deep into the workings of the Church in its final bid to regain the pope's temporal power. Kertzer sweeps readers along with riveting, revelatory panache. No one who reads his new book will ever think of Italy, or the Vatican, in quite the same way again.

©2004 David I. Kertzer (P)2005 Tantor Media, Inc.
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

Critic reviews

"Populated with a colorful cast of authentic historical figures, this fascinating slice of papal and Italian history will intrigue and enlighten both scholars and the merely curious." (Booklist)
"Kertzer, given access to newly opened Vatican archives, tells a first-rate tale of the political intrigues and corrupt characters of a newly emerging nation, offers history writing at its best, and provides insight into a little-known chapter in religious and political history." (Publishers Weekly)

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    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent book, odd publisher's summary

The book describes the history of Rome in the 19th century when the independent papal state of Rome was seized during the formation of the new Italian national state. The story is not about "The Popes' Secret Plot to Capture Rome from the New Italian State" as the publisher (or probably a semi-literate summer intern at the publishing house, who never read the book) thought to summarize this book, but more about the difficulties of the papal state and its souvereign, the pope, after Italian, national forces had seized it. The history is very well researched and explained, and the author holds a healthy distance towards its main characters and uses only original sources. I do recommend this book for people that are interested in catholic, papal, Italian or European history. Very well read.

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