introducing readers to writers since 1995

December 22, 2004

John Cornwell's Holiday Gift Suggestion

by Ron Hogan

cornwell.GIFJohn Cornwell is the author of The Pontiff in Winter, a hardhitting new biography of Pope John Paul II. (Think Christopher Hitchens on Mother Teresa, but rather a bit gentler and more willing to acknowledge a good side.) As the author of the international bestseller Hitler's Pope, Cornwell is no stranger to the Vatican, an institution he's reported on for publications ranging from The Sunday Times of London to Vanity Fair. He stays close to home, you might say, with a holiday gift suggestion eminently suitable for the Christmas weekend.

Being fascinated by the Vatican, the world's oldest continuing institution, I grab any book I can to get an update on the characters and any clues as to how the next conclave to chose the next pope will turn out. John Allen's All the Pope's Men is a rivetting read by a hugely energetic and productive journalist. As the role of religion in politics becomes more intense and interesting, especially in America, he is one of the best guides we have. When much of our information about the Catholic Church, and groups like Opus Dei, come from fiction (for example The Da Vinci Code), Allen gives us a dose of reality and not without wit and verve. As is often the case, reality is so much more interesting than fiction.
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