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Pius XII: The Hound of Hitler Hardcover – December 13, 2009

3.5 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Mentioned in The Observer, May 11, 2008.


'Few people are better qualified than Gerard Noel to disinter the subtle diplomacy conducted by the prewar and wartime Vatican.'
Andrew Roberts, The Spectator, July 2008.


''Gerard Noel's new study of Eugenio Pacelli is a humane and compelling attempt to explain how this pope's psychology influenced the controversial decisions he made and to reconcile two apparently contradictory aspects of his character...There is something of universal charity in Noel's approach to his subject.''
Andrew M. Brown, Catholic Herald, August 2008


''Noel produces a devastatingly psychological portrait of a flawed individual quite unsuited to his circumstances.''
Peter Stanford, The Independent, August 2008


"Unlike most biographers of Pius XII, Noel actually met his subject ... his conclusion that Pacelli's name will always be linked to Hitler's persecution of the Jews seems to be beyond doubt." - The Tablet


"Essentially, he offers an apologia for Pius, explaining his inaction with regard to the Holocaust as a response that was meant to preserve 'the safety of the Roman Church above all other causes, however worthy.' Unfortunately, the book is dense and moves ungracefully from psychological analysis to the intricacies of canon law and Vatican diplomacy. Readers who want a better-reasoned and —written analysis can turn to Michael Phayer's The Catholic Church and the Holocaust, 1930-1965. Noel's book is recommended only for comprehensive collections." - Diane Harvey, Library Journal, October 1, 2008 (Diane Harvey Library Journal)

"An excellent book ... Gerard Noel goes to the heart of Pope Pius XII the person." - Common Ground


Reviewed in Jewish Chronicle


"A humane and compelling attempt to explain how this pope's psychology influenced the controversial decisions he made and to reconcile two apparently contradictory aspects of his character." Irish News


Title mention in Bookseller Buyers Guide.


"...an outstanding biography..." The Sunday Telegraph, 30 November 2008
(Selena Hastings Sunday Telegraph)

Mention —Book News, February 2009

"One look at Noel's footnotes will reveal his originality and depth of research" - First Things (William Doino Jr. First Things)

'A humane and compelling attempt to understand what went on in Pius's mind during those years ... an important addition to the debate.' - Catholic Herald


"This biographical work examines how Eugenio Pacelli, later Pope Pius XII, reacted to the politics of World War II, focusing on the Pope's failure to confront the atrocities of the Nazis, in particular the genocide of the European Jews, and his willingness to place the Catholic Church in concordat with Mussolini and other fascist forces. It places Pius's personal frailties in the context of longstanding papal politics and concludes with a defense of Pius/Pacelli as an individual rather than as a Pope." -Eithne O'Leyne, BOOK NEWS, Inc.



'It makes for a good read, and is certainly a book that will appeal to non-academic as well as academic readers.'
(The Journal of Ecclesiastical History)

“Essentially, he offers an apologia for Pius, explaining his inaction with regard to the Holocaust as a response that was meant to preserve 'the safety of the Roman Church above all other causes, however worthy.’ Unfortunately, the book is dense and moves ungracefully from psychological analysis to the intricacies of canon law and Vatican diplomacy. Readers who want a better-reasoned and –written analysis can turn to Michael Phayer’s The Catholic Church and the Holocaust, 1930-1965. Noel’s book is recommended only for comprehensive collections.” - Diane Harvey, Library Journal, October 1, 2008 (Sanford Lakoff Library Journal)

"...an outstanding biography..." The Sunday Telegraph, 30 November 2008
(Sanford Lakoff Sunday Telegraph)

Mention –Book News, February 2009

"One look at Noel’s footnotes will reveal his originality and depth of research" - First Things (Sanford Lakoff First Things)

'It makes for a good read, and is certainly a book that will appeal to non-academic as well as academic readers.’
(Sanford Lakoff)

About the Author

The Hon Gerard Noel is a former editor of The Catholic Herald. He is also a celebrated biographer and historian. His life of Queen Ena of Spain was widely acclaimed as were his books on Harold Wilson and Cardinal Hume.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic; First Edition edition (December 13, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847063551
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847063557
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 0.9 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #875,171 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Paul O'Shea on October 24, 2008
Format: Hardcover
It's hard to criticise an author with whom I find myself agreeing with about much of what he has written. However, while I agree with many of Noel's conclusions, I disagree with the way he has reached them. Of the seeming never-ending stream of books on Pius XII (including my own!) there is always the danger of authors neglecting the rigours of historical research in order to get 'their stuff out there'. And this, I fear, is what Gerard Noel has done, even if, as he states in his introduction, that he is writing a very personal book. Personal books need to be labelled clearly - lest readers believe they are reading disciplined histories.

A cursory glance at the footnotes at the back of the book is telling. In the bibliographical notes Noel acknowledges his debt to Paul Murphy, author of the 1983 biography of Sr Pasqualina Lenhert entitled 'La Popessa'. His debt is considerable. Of the 548 footnotes 257 involved quotes or references to 'La Popessa' - 47% of all cited material. This has created an overwhelming dependency on one source; and a very questionable source at that. Lenhert's presence in the Vatican was resented and loathed by most of the male curia, often with good reason. Her acerbic memoirs need careful contextualisation alongside other memoirs from other eye witnesses. Curiously Harold Tittmann, FDR's 'man on the scene' makes only a passing reference to her, as do other contemporary diarists such as Monsignor Domenico Tardini and later Cardinal Tisserant. Pasqualina was not a mover and shaker of Vatican politics. Her utter selfless devotion to Pius created a situtation of co-dependency where she saw herself as an extension of him. But, this takes me into the realm of psycho-history which is more theory than fact; entertaining perhaps, but not history.
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Gerard Noel has written the balanced picture of Pope Pius XII. He shows us the Pius who thought he could save the Vatican by being conciliatory towards Hitler. Noel brings in the most significant person in Pius' life and paints her correctly. Most biographers give her three or four sentences.
I am sorry about the title. I see no significance in the word hound. I recommend it highly as it seems to be the truest, most balanced presentation of a man who grew up only blocks from St Peter's Square who never went to seminary and whose only jobs were Vatican appointments. A man whose diplomacy had disastrous results, he was a throw back to the imperial papacy and he believed infallibility resided in his person. His fears were legitimate but Pius lack the courage to become the greatest pope.
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Pope Pius XII also had a difficult time dealing with Hitler during WW II. This is a very good biography of the trials and tribulations faced by him during the war years. Some have felt he was "pro-Nazi". Reading this book, I can only conclude he was not. He may have been pro Germany but not pro-Nazi. He definelty was PRO-VATICAN. I think he was attempting to protect Vatican autoimmunity more than anything.
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This is a good book about Pius XII, although sometimes very hard and critical. Also his references are also from a critical source. I read the book because I wanted to fairly understand the controversy about Pius XII. I still believe Pius XII was a protector of the Jews in WWII and does deserve to be declared a saint by the Catholic Church.
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