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Lazarus Hardcover – March, 1990

4.4 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews
Book 3 of 3 in the Vatican Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The Vatican trilogy that began with The Shoes of the Fisherman (1963) and The Clowns of God (1981) reaches a dramatic conclusion in West's bold limning of a modern pontiff presiding in a time of terrorism and violence. Leo XIV, a pope physically at risk as well as spiritually troubled, is unlike his warmly remembered predecessor, John XXIII. Reactionary and forbidding, out of touch with the faithful, Leo undergoes bypass surgery that puts him at the mercy of "Brother Death" and in the care of a Jewish Italian surgeon with Zionist connections. Amid political intrigue and counterespionage, both pope and physician become prime targets of Islamic terrorists. Convalescing, Leo experiences a "change of heart," considering abdication in favor of a simpler life. West's authoritative knowledge of labyrinthine Roman society provides a credible background for the gripping climax. Timely and absorbing, this novel will appear as the two earlier books are reissued in both hardcover and trade paperback. 150,000 first printing; $150,000 ad/promo; Literary Guild dual main selection; author tour.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

An Australian writer with a well-deserved international reputation, West has published more than 25 books in his 40-year career. His new novel completes his papacy trilogy, begun with The Shoes of the Fisherman (1963) and continued with The Clowns of God (1981)--and both still great "reads." A tense and exciting thriller, Lazarus also explores world crises and theological politics quite as fascinating to non-Catholics as to Catholics. At its heart is reactionary Pope Leo XIV, who emerges a changed man in an unchanged world when he simultaneously undergoes coronary bypass surgery and deals with the threat of assassination. While the book can be read as a complement to the other two novels, it stands alone as a superb, absorbing novel. Literary Guild dual main selection; previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 12/89.-- Mary Margaret Benson, Linfield Coll . Lib., McMinnville, Ore. correction: The review of Sam Llewel lyn's Death Roll (Summit Bks.) inadvertent ly appeared under the heading for Carolyn Llewellyn's The Lady of the Labryinth (Scribner) in the February 15 issue of LJ. The two books, with their correct headings, are reviewed in this issue, above.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 293 pages
  • Publisher: St Martins Pr; First Edition edition (March 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312043392
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312043391
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 3.8 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,726,956 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By David Rasquinha on October 11, 2003
Format: Paperback
Morris West's Lazarus is a cri de coeur in more ways than one. On a basic level, West has parlayed his own experience with life-saving cardiac surgery (and its impact on his life) into come up with an amazingly realistic account of the same transformation experienced by the Pope. On a deeper level, it is West's own plea for his beloved Catholic Church to break its self-imposed shackles of bureaucracy, rigid attitude and mechanistic rules and return to the basic metaphor of its founder : a shepherd caring for his flock of sheep.
This has been a consistent thrust of Morris West's writings, born out of his own experiences : a theme that is of course highly divisive. Many (like myself, admittedly) Catholics who considered the Second Vatican Council to be a long delayed awakening for the hierarchy, and the subsequent papal policies as a betrayal of the Council, will doubtless find ourselves in full agreement. I recognize at the same time that many persons of goodwill consider the Council as a step too far and view the retrenchments since then as advancements.
The Pope Leo of the book is not John Paul II of course, but his fundamental character is not far different. West envisages Leo as the stereotyped Curial bureaucrat who becomes a priest more from family expectations than any real calling, rises through the ranks and finds himself Pope with no real vision for the Church beyond the classical bureaucrat's respect for authority and rules. With this background, he (in all sincerity no doubt) rules with an iron hand, brooking no dissent and heedless of the human cost of his policies.
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Format: Paperback
Again, the Vatican: The ageing pontiff faces death unless the famous, Jewish doctor performs surgery immediately. The risk? Nothing much - it's like getting into a car or a plane. You accept the risk, then forget it. Turning down surgery carries swift - and certain - death, so the heir of the fisherman accepts.
Being under the knife brings the iron-fisted hard-liner to a personal crisis, and he emerges another man after having seen death in the eye - thus the title. But the statistical risk of not making it through surgery is infinitesimal - compared to becoming the target of professional assassins as they gather around their prey.
As often is with West, he combines quick action with personal trauma. And once again, he does it well. The thrill and the thoughts are both essential, and the book is worth reading. And, not surprisingly, a twist at the end.
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By A Customer on October 1, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I read this book on vacation. Many years ago I read "In The Shoes of the Fisherman" and "The Clowns of God." I enjoyed both of these books but not enought to search out and read the third book in the trilogy. What a mistake! This book contains the politics of power, the behind the scenes strugles and the fears and doubts as well as the faith and triumphs of the servants of the Vatican, as well as the Italian and international scene. The relationships both formed, forming and parting kept me glued to the book. The pace was fast and enthralling. Do not miss this book. The end was somewhat predictable, but never-the-less still shocking.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A credible story as relevant today as when it was first written. The cast of characters, religious and lay persons from an international setting, toss in some terrorists and precious children with disabilities, gives you a magnificent story which evokes every type of emotion
Most definitely a repeat read.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful ending to the Trilogy. Although not as strong as The Shoes of the Fisherman or the Clowns of G-d, it still helped us to see a man in crisis and transition. I could not help but think of Benedict XVI. Personally, I was going through a heart crisis and the psychological information was helpful.
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I have always enjoyed the moral works of Morris West, and this finale of the Vatican Trilogy is no different. Though morals and living a good life is touched up quite well, I thought it primarily a criticism of the Catholic Church specifically, and organized religion in general. The theme being, too much organization and not enough ministering of the faithful. A very different approach then his first book of the Trilogy on the Vatican which was The Shoes of The Fisherman. There it was the moral guts of the future Pope as interrogated by his Soviet capture who became head of state of his nation. Lazarus dealt with the belated awareness of the Pope that his entire life had been directed in the wrong direction. Both good books.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The third and final entry in West's Vatican trilogy isn't as good as "Shoes of the Fisherman" or "Clowns of God", but it is still a compelling read. Each book in the trilogy is a stand alone work, but reading all three is very satisfying.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Within an interesting plot, where you are taken in to read what is going to happen next, the author manages to bring forward the controversies of today's Roman Catholic Church, making the reader think of such issues and giving interesting arguments to the thoughts portrayed throughout the text. Equally, fundamentalism and extremist religious views question man's views of what is "right & wrong". Highly recommendable.
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