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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

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4.2 (269 )
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  •  
    Fuzzy Dunlop 09-14-16
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    "boring"

    not what I had expected lots of babble no real substance just pro church chatter

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    G. Amundsen Alaska 08-10-16
    G. Amundsen Alaska 08-10-16 Member Since 2013
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    "Surprising, Intriguing, Informative"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jessy Schaffer Reading, Pa 04-13-16
    Jessy Schaffer Reading, Pa 04-13-16 Member Since 2017

    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
  •  
    S. Perry Canada 04-07-13
    S. Perry Canada 04-07-13 Member Since 2016
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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.

    3 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Charles USA 03-14-13
    Charles USA 03-14-13 Member Since 2008

    Wonderchuck

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    "Behind the scenes?"

    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.

    2 of 4 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!


    12 of 26 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathy Davis, CA, United States 07-02-14
    Kathy Davis, CA, United States 07-02-14 Member Since 2008

    Besides incessant listening to audiobooks, I also read on my Kindle at night, birdwatch, garden (roses, daylilies), and do genealogy.

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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
  •  
    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 5 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 5 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.

    2 of 5 people found this review helpful

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