Pope Pius XII is perhaps the most detested pope in modern history, vilified for allegedly appeasing Hitler and betraying the Jewish people by remaining silent during the Holocaust. But this conventional narrative is not the full story.
In Church of Spies, the intelligence expert Mark Riebling draws on a wealth of recently uncovered documents to argue that, far from being Hitler’s lackey, Pius was an active anti-Nazi spymaster. He directed a vast network of Vatican operatives—priests and laypeople alike—who partnered with the German resistance, tipped the Allies off to Hitler’s invasions of France and Russia, and involved themselves in three separate plots to assassinate Hitler.
A fast-paced and gripping tale of secrecy, danger, and self-sacrifice, Church of Spies takes readers from hidden crypts beneath the Vatican to Nazi bunkers in Germany to chart the true legacy of Pius’s secret war. Although these revelations do not excuse Pius’s public silence during the war, they provide us with a deeper understanding of the man reviled by so many.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I was both surprised and enthralled by this book from the beginning. Whilst I expected the author to have a compelling argument and evidence to support his ideas, he also managed to craft a book that was interesting and kept my attention throughout.
As someone who loves history, it is hard for me to pass up a title that promises to look at something from a new angle. Mark Riebling offered that, and did an excellent job of supporting his claims. I have to say, after reading this, I agree with his assessment of the situation.
There was a lot I didn’t know about the Pope’s standpoint on the Nazi movement and the involvement of the Catholic Church, and I walked away feeling better informed after having read this.
If you are a history buff, I definitely recommend that you pick this book up. You will be rewarded with the writing of an author who knows his stuff and meets a high standard of literary integrity.
This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher, provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.