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The Pope's Last Crusade

How an American Jesuit Helped Pope Pius XI's Campaign to Stop Hitler

Peter Eisner

This book is available for download with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device, and with iTunes on your computer. Books can be read with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


A conspiracy within the Vatican—to stop an outspoken Pope

In 1938, Pope Pius XI was the world's most prominent critic of Hitler and his rhetoric of ethnic "purity." To make his voice heard, Pius called upon a relatively unknown American Jesuit whose writing about racism in America had caught the Pope's attention. Pius enlisted John LaFarge to write a papal encyclical—the Vatican's strongest decree—publicly condemning Hitler, Mussolini, and their murderous Nazi campaign against the Jews.

At the same time conservative members of the Vatican's innermost circle were working in secret to suppress the document. Chief among them was Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, whose appeasement of the Germans underlay a deep-running web of conspiracy. Pacelli, who would become Pope Pius XII, was joined by Wlodimir Ledóchowski, leader of the Jesuit order, to keep the finished encyclical from reaching the increasingly ill Pope.

Peter Eisner, award-winning reporter and author of the critically acclaimed The Freedom Line, combines shocking new evidence (released only recently from Vatican archives) and eyewitness testimony to create a compelling journey into the heart of the Vatican and a little-known story of an American's partnership with the head of the Catholic Church. A truly essential work, it brings staggering new light to one of the most critical junctures in modern history.

Publishers Weekly Review

Dec 17, 2012 – Eisner (The Freedom Line) resorts to dramatization and speculation (“The pope woke up... feeling as well rested as he had in recent days”), undercutting his efforts to persuade readers of the accuracy of his account in this less-than-thrilling tale of the little-known efforts by the Vatican to counter the Nazis before WWII. Pope Pius XI has been all but eclipsed in historical memory by the contentious reputation of his successor, Pius XII, who is regarded as having done far less than he could have to counter Hitler and to rescue the Jews of Europe from concentration camps. According to Eisner, the Vatican’s track record might have been different if Pius XI had lived to deliver a speech in 1939 condemning the German regime—that speech would have been based on the thinking of the Rev. John LaFarge, an American, who, two years earlier, had written a book (Interracial Justice) calling for church action against racism, and whom Pius XI had commissioned to write a papal encyclical on the same subject. Putting aside the author’s what-ifs, Eisner has done history and the Vatican a service by retrieving from obscurity a significant episode in Catholic-Jewish relations.

Customer Reviews

Very informative

This book was well written and informative. It cleared up misconceptions that I held about the papacy during that time period and at the same time re-affirms a lot of the beliefs I hold about the politics of the church.

The Pope's Last Crusade
View In iTunes
  • $10.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Military
  • Published: Mar 19, 2013
  • Publisher: William Morrow
  • Seller: HarperCollins
  • Print Length: 320 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings

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