cover image A History of the Popes: From Peter to the Present

A History of the Popes: From Peter to the Present

John W. O'Malley, S. J.. Sheed & Ward, $26.95 (351pp) ISBN 978-1-58051-227-5

Documenting fifteen hundred years of history in 300 pages is a daunting task, but one that priest and Georgetown University professor O'Malley handles with gusto and a fair hand; considering the level of emotion that the Papacy can inspire, O'Malley reserves his enthusiasm for the unexpected twists of history, rather than any particular character or school of thought. In concise but engaging prose, O'Malley manages to find virtue in popes maligned by history, and a critical approach to the frequently-lauded, while keeping an eye on the world at large. Though the book can feel rushed-O'Malley can blow through a series of minor popes in a paragraph each-readers eager for a breezy survey of papal history will be pleased, so long as they bring along a basic understanding of Catholic doctrine and history (or at least a capable glossary).