PRISONER OF THE VATICAN: The Popes' Secret Plot to Capture Rome from the New Italian State

David I. Kertzer, Author . Houghton Mifflin $26 (357p) ISBN 978-0-618-22442-5

"Modern Italy was founded... over the dead body of Pope Pius IX," writes Kertzer, author of the National Jewish Book Award–winning The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara (also a National Book Award finalist), in this riveting and fast-paced chronicle of the rise of the Italian state and the Vatican's forgotten battle against the nationalists to retain power over Rome. In 1870, Victor Emmanuel II, king of a newly united Italy, sought an agreement with Pius IX in which the pope would rule the Tiber's right bank while the king would govern the left bank. When the pope rejected this arrangement, Italian troops seized power in Rome and Pius IX sought refuge in the Vatican palaces, declaring himself a prisoner. Led by Garibaldi and aided by Catholic France, the nationalists gained control in 1878, and so angered were nationalists at Pius IX that in 1881 protesters almost succeeded in dumping his corpse into the Tiber. The animosity between the pope and the state continued until 1929, when Mussolini and the Vatican signed a concordat in which the Vatican recognized the legitimacy of the Italian state and the Vatican was granted the rights of a sovereign state. 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. 16 pages of b&w photos, 5 maps. Agent, Ted Chichak. (Nov. 15)

Reviewed on: 09/06/2004
Release date: 11/01/2004
Genre: Nonfiction
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