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God's Bankers: A History of Money and Power at the Vatican Hardcover – February 3, 2015

4.5 out of 5 stars 293 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"A dogged reporter exhaustively pursues the nefarious enrichment of the Vatican, from the Borgias to Pope Francis.... A meticulous work that cracks wide open the Vatican's legendary, enabling secrecy." (Kirkus)

“A fast-paced read that brings history alive on every page. The book will captivate those who prefer their historical nonfiction spiked with real-life tales of murder, power, and intrigue.” (Booklist)

“Posner uses his superlative investigative skills to craft a fascinating and comprehensive look at the dark side of the Catholic Church…. Accessible and well written, Posner’s is the definitive history of the topic to date.” (Publishers Weekly (starred))

“A highly anticipated book, the result of a nine year investigation by author Gerald Posner. It reads like Robert Ludlow’s fiction [and] paints a picture of murder, double-dealing, and fraud surrounding the bank.” (Michael Smerconish, CNN)

"A stunning exposé by investigative reporter Gerald Posner. As exciting as a mystery thriller." (Providence Journal)

“Expertly shows that theory and conjecture aren’t necessary when the real-life narrative is compelling enough…. Posner’s history of the institution reads like a sprawling novel, full of complex characters and surprising twists….Readers interested in issues involving religion and international finance will find Posner’s work a compelling read.” (Library Journal)

God’s Bankers is often fascinating reading, full of international intrigue….God’s Bankers is meticulously researched. Almost 200 pages of end notes indicate the care Posner took in nine years spent researching his subject….The book tells a compelling story, but never at the expense of journalistic principles. Posner might speculate, but he is always careful to mark it as such, and to point out the facts and primary sources that support or undermine the speculation….His work pulls together existing scholarship and massive amounts of original research to present the closest thing to a definitive account of the workings of money and finance within the Vatican that could be produced without cooperation from the Vatican itself.” (Washington Independent Review of Books)

“The Vatican began trying to reform its bank, but with only modest success. Now there's a new sheriff in town, Pope Francis, and he has made significant progress. Posner's compelling book provides a benchmark for measuring his success.” (Philadelphia Inquirer)

"An outstanding book" (John L. Allen, journalist for The Boston Globe)

“Why all this reform? Wall Street-lawyer-turned-author Gerald Posner lays it out in his deeply researched, passionately argued book, ‘God's Bankers: A History of Money and Power at the Vatican.’ Posner…is a merciless pitbull of an investigator, marshaling mountains of evidence to make his arguments…. the heart of ‘God's Bankers’ lies in chapters devoted to the church's actions during and immediately after World War II. In these chapters, Posner dissects the church's actions with the eye of a prosecutor.” (Chicago Tribune)

“An exhaustive history of the financial machinations at the center of the church in Rome….Posner weaves an extraordinarily intricate tale of intrigue, corruption and organized criminality….Posner’s gifts as a reporter and storyteller are most vividly displayed in a series of lurid chapters on the American archbishop Paul Marcinkus, the arch-Machiavellian who ran the Vatican Bank from 1971-1989.” (New York Times Book Review)

"The church was with Hitler and Mussolini during the Second World War. Even today, the Church is run on blood money. Blood money from where? By whom? Well, the details are in God’s Bankers. It is a must read for all those who love action-packed and suspense-filled real life incidents. God’s Bankers is more thrilling that Mario Puzo’s Godfather." (The Pioneer Agenda)

"God's Bankers should be read by every Catholic truly interested in Church history." (Catholic Insight)

“A book worth the time if a reader is interested in Roman Catholic Church and European history….The book will be appreciated by those involved in finance. It is chock full of tales of investment schemes involving off-shore ghost companies, shell corporations and holding companies set up to hide the movement of money, the use of tax havens, tax laws (and how to avoid them), and financial instruments that caused millions of dollars to disappear….Some may also appreciate reading about the personalities of popes, the power games and the internecine politics of the Roman Curia (the pope’s administrative wing) that make the current political games played in Washington, D.C., seem amateurish by comparison.” (Financial Advisor Magazine)

“This fast-paced, carefully researched exposé of the nefarious enrichment of the Vatican is a real eyebrow-raiser….a spellbinding, intricate tale of corruption, intrigue, and criminality at the heart of the world’s largest religious institution.” (Portsmouth Herald)

About the Author

Gerald Posner was one of the youngest attorneys ever hired by the Wall Street law firm of Cravath, Swaine & Moore. He is the author of eleven books, including New York Times bestsellers, and one a finalist for the Pulitzer in History.  Posner has written dozens of articles for national magazines and papers and has been a regular contributor to NBC, the History Channel, CNN, FOX News, CBS, and MSNBC. He lives in Miami Beach with his wife, author Trisha Posner.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 752 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (February 3, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416576576
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416576570
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (293 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #47,732 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is as much a history of the Vatican as it is its money trail from the shadows of the renaissance all the way up the day it was published.

`God's Bankers' is an easy read; one doesn't have to be a PHD to understand it. This renders its length not the challenge it might otherwise seem to be.

There are literally thousands of footnotes in this book; look for the nitpickers to come out in droves. Yet, this in no way undermines the overall wealth of this work: everything there is to know about the Vatican Bank.

Insofar as it references direct press sources rather than books, `God's Bankers' sheds new light on much of what it has to say. E.g., scores of books have been commissioned by the Vatican to conceal its union with the Nazi Party in pre-war Germany. Read the newspapers of the time and you get an entirely different picture. `God's Bankers' gives you that picture.

The narrative is skillfully knotted with loads of scenes of the times, from little Jewish boys kidnapped by popes, into the shadows of the Vatican alliance with the Third Reich, to Jews loaded onto boxcars under clergy noses, to the politics of conclaves that elect popes, to a pope sitting up dead in bed reading papers held in his hands, to a Mafia type swinging under a bridge in the wake of the `Great Vatican Bank Scandal'.

It cleverly weaves the role of money into most of what it has to say and it sheds new light on those of us who think we know it all. For example,

Most of us know the German Concordant allied the Vatican with Nazi Germany. But, how many of us know, the Third Reich enacted automatic payroll deductions of German Catholics (8-10%); money which flowed to the Vatican treasury?
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Format: Kindle Edition
"You can't run the Church on Hail Marys" --- Archbishop Paul Marcinkus, (1922-2006) former head of the Vatican Bank

Cicero, IL-born Paul Marcinkus, a central figure in Gerald Posner's "God's Bankers: A History of Money and Power at the Vatican" (Simon & Schuster, 752 pages, photographic inserts, notes, bibliography, index, $32.00) practiced what he preached at one of the world's most opaque financial institution, the Istituto per le Opere di Religione (IOR), also known as the Vatican Bank, from 1971 to 1989.

The 6-foot 3 inch Lithuanian American also doubled as a bodyguard/interpreter for several popes. He certainly stood out among the mostly diminutive denizens of one of the world's smallest countries. Despite having no financial experience he managed to hang on to his job, writes Posner, who spent nine years researching and writing this book. The exhaustive research -- including several details revealed for the first time -- shows, as does the gripping narrative that is stranger than fiction.

Speaking of fiction, Posner describes how some of the events, including the murder of Italian banker Roberto Calvi in London in 1982, were dramatized in Francis Ford Coppola's "The Godfather. Part III" in 1990. (Page 363).

Just about every account I've read about the Vatican Bank and the numerous financial scandals in Italy leads off with the death of Robert Calvi in 1982 at Blackfriars Bridge in London -- and Posner is no exception.

Calvi (April 13, 1920 - June 17, 1982) was an Italian banker, often dubbed "God's Banker" by the press because of his close association with the Holy See.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Posner's new book is as thoroughly researched as any of his previous works, with thousands of footnotes, a pages long bibliography, photos, etc., but none of that should get in the way of a fascinating read. Posner says it took 9 years to write the book, and the scholarship is evident. But the writing is compelling, as gripping as a spy novel, yet non-fiction. The telling of the story of the Vatican's finances is a history of deceit, nefarious relations with the worst of the world's aggressors, corruption, and lack of oversight by any governmental agency, since the Vatican is a sovereign state, subject only to its own laws. Much of the book is shocking, but needs to be read and discussed to correct the abuses perpetrated by the bank's operatives.

Posner has opened a festering wound, revealing for the first time much information previously suppressed, clearing the way for Pope Francis to rid the Vatican Bank of its bureaucrats, and hopefully cleansing the bank going forward.
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Format: Hardcover
Gerald Posner has written a book that should be required reading for every Catholic and anyone else remotely interested in the tangled web of money, power, intrigue and religion that is the Vatican. Mr. Posner's brilliantly researched and written opus reads like a breathless detective story: Nazi gold, Mafia money laundering, murders, a gay lobby in the Curia where "pretty boys" get ahead faster, the coverup of child sexual abuses, and Popes who cannot get control of their own Vatican administrators. A central question for some readers will be whether the Vatican is rotten to the core or whether a few in high places have tarnished the Church, perhaps irreperably.
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