A Pulitzer Prize winner’s “fascinating” account of the political battles that led to the end of the Papal States (Entertainment Weekly).
From a National Book Award–nominated author, this absorbing history chronicles the birth of modern Italy and the clandestine politics behind the Vatican’s last stand in the battle between the church and the newly created Italian state.
When Italy’s armies seized the Holy City and claimed it for the Italian capital, Pope Pius IX, outraged, retreated to the Vatican and declared himself a prisoner, calling on foreign powers to force the Italians out of Rome. The action set in motion decades of political intrigue that hinged on such fascinating characters as Garibaldi, King Viktor Emmanuel, Napoleon III, and Chancellor Bismarck.
Drawing on a wealth of secret documents long buried in the Vatican archives, David I. Kertzer reveals a fascinating story of outrageous accusations, mutual denunciations, and secret dealings that will leave readers hard-pressed to ever think of Italy, or the Vatican, in the same way again.
“A rousing tale of clerical skullduggery and topsy-turvy politics, laced with plenty of cross-border intrigue.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“Kertzer once again proves himself a truly compelling historian.” —André Aciman
“Prisoner of the Vatican reads like exciting fiction. And it has astounding contemporary relevance.” —Alfred Uhry
“Kertzer’s careful scholarship and lucid writing make the human character of this religious institution quite clear.” —James Carroll
“Fascinating.” —Entertainment Weekly
“Lively . . . filled with telling anecdotes and colorful descriptions of the various characters involved in the struggle.” —America, the National Catholic Weekly
“Riveting and fast-paced . . . history writing at its best.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
“A chilling and timely warning of what happens when religious power becomes synonymous with political power. If you love Italy, if you love Rome, this book is essential reading.” —John Guare
“As magically spellbinding as it is enlightening, replete with colorful characters and complex international and ecclesiastical politics and intrigue. Kertzer is a national treasure and his latest book another masterpiece.” —Kevin Madigan, Associate Professor, Harvard Divinity School
“This book is a gift to everyone who welcomes the emergence of buried history, and a boon to anyone who has ever wondered about the origins of the wonderful, tenuously unified place called modern Italy.” —Tracy Kidder