Spies in the Vatican: The Soviet Union's Cold War Against the Catholic Church

John Koehler, Author . Pegasus $26.95 (352p) ISBN 978-1-60598-050-8

Though it's well known that the U.S.S.R. spied on everyone, readers will be amazed by this account of its extensive infiltration of the Catholic Church. A journalist and former army intelligence officer, Koehler (Stasi ) explains that the KGB relied on Catholic Eastern European agents, many of whom occupied prominent positions in the church hierarchy, and they listened in as U.S. and European leaders briefed the pope. Koehler mines mostly East German and Polish secret police archives and quotes them, sometimes too liberally. Included is a pitiful but lengthy verbatim 1973 transcript of South Vietnam's foreign minister begging the pope for assistance as U.S. troops prepare to withdraw, but there are also too many tedious discussions of minimally interesting cold war topics. The digressions from spying vary from an interminable account of Pope John Paul II's 1979 Polish visit to juicy details of the KGB-backed 1981 assassination attempt on the anti-communist pope. Koehler's angry book will satisfy readers who remain outraged at Communist perfidy, but they will work hard for the satisfaction unless they skim long sections of verbatim quotes and political analyses. (July)

Reviewed on: 05/11/2009
Release date: 08/01/2009
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 296 pages - 978-1-60598-140-6
MP3 CD - 978-1-5226-7645-4
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