This is a short book, which is unfortunate, given the period of time that it covers: all of the papal elections from the beginning of the Church until the present. Because of the timeline, and the books lack of length, everything is really compressed, and the reader only gets the barest sense of what happened during many of these elections, particularly in the very early days. That's not actually a bad thing, for it certainly whets the appetite of the interested reader to delve further into period histories and do some research on his own. I like that in a book, for it encourages scholarship. That being said, this book is well worth reading even for the smattering of information it gives about these "elections". As one who grew up in parochial schools in the '50s, and was taught by the good sisters that the election of the Pope was inspired by the Holy Spirit, this dosage of truth is quite eye opening! Power politics, family connections, money and assorted other things all contributed, at one time or another, to the outcome of an election. Nothing about hanging chads, however, which was a relief! Despite all of it, the Church has seemed to survive its different leaders, for better or worse, down through the last two centuries. Perhaps then, the nuns were right, and the Holy Spirit has been looking after all of us. Read the book, and decide for yourself!
Michael Walsh's summary history of papal elections moves remarkably quickly: 2,000 years in under 200 pages. Popes are chosen, only to die quickly -- sometimes in the very next sentence. So this is not in any sense a history of the papacy. The author has focused his attention quite narrowly, and for general readers looking for an introduction to this interesting and timely topic, he has succeeded admirably. Walsh's text emphasizes the changing dynamics involved in papal elections … more
I'm a small town general practice attorney in the hard coal region of Pennsylvania. Books are my passion, andI read as many of them asI can. Being the President of the local library board for over … more
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