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A Thief in the Night: Life and Death in the Vatican Paperback – May 1, 2001
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Top Customer Reviews
Anyone interested in the death of the 33-day Pope should read this book as it is the Vatican's side of the story. It was commissioned by Rome in order to quell rumors of foul play in the 33-day-Pope's death raised by David Yallop's best seller `In God's Name.' In exchange for Cornwell's promise to conclude the Pope died of a 'heart attack,' the Vatican permitted him to interview some of those who had been in the papal palace the night the Pope died. The most important of these witnesses to Cornwell's conclusion the Pope died of'pulmonary embolism' was John MaGee who, by coincidence, at about the same time (1987) was made a bishop. One can only surmise this was a tit-for-tat deal. (seatch Google: Bishop John MaGee).
A more recent book has the advantage of time - things we know today that we didn't know when these things happened. Lucien Gregoire's The Vatican Murders: The Life and Death of John Paul I employs what is known by the medical community today which was not known when Cornwell wrote his book. Any member of the medical profession today will tell you it is impossible to determine the cause of an unwitnessed death unless the cause of death is obvious. The cause of such a death can only determined by autopsy - something the Vatican refused to perform.
To conclude the Pope's condition of 'low blood pressure' contributed to the Pope's `heart attack' or, for that matter, 'pulmnonary embolism' may have been a sound conclusion twenty years ago, but not today. As late as 1987, when Cornwell wrote his book, it was believed that low blood pressure could be a factor in 'heart attack' or 'pulmonary embolism.Read more ›
John Cornwell, who also wrote Hitler's Pope, investigates these allegations as an independent journalist, ten years after the fact. He interviews all the major Vatican players, gains access to the current Pope, and learns very little new information. Except that there is all sorts of confusion about aspects of that night which seems to be inherent to the way the Vatican is run, not specifically to why this pope died. Cornwell ultimately comes up with his own theory of what happened that night.
Each chapter is pretty much a transcript of one of Cornwell's interviews. It goes something like this: I arrived here, had to get through red tape, finally got permission to talk to so and so, and this is what they said to me: transcript. I found it pretty uninspiring.
If there is any interest to be found here at all, it's the glimpse you get into the Vatican. One of the advantages of having so much of the book be in other people's words, is the immediate access the reader has into the personalities that make up the Vatican. There is so much gossip going on it and so much back-stabbing, at times it feels like a soap opera. As far as Cornwell's investigation goes, it's pretty wimpy. Yeah, he talks to a bunch of people, and he does find out some interesting tidbits that clear up a few minor points up, but all in all, there was very little here to warrant a book. He should have written a magazine article and been done with it.
interviewed is John MaGee - at the time of the Pope's death he was John Paul's secretary.
That John MaGee was elevated to the rank of bishop a month after he gave his interview with John Corwell is telling evidence that a payoff or at the very least a conflict of interest was invloved in his testimony. The author concludes everything that the Vatican wants him to conclude concerning the death of John Paul, including the absolute conviction that the Pope died of a heart attack. Since no autopsy was performed it is impossible to conclude what he died of as his death was unwitnessed - only one of two Popes in the two thousand years of Popes whose death was unwitnessed.
If you want a more riveting tale of the times "In God's Name' is a much better choice. If you want all of the facts and circumstances surounding the mysterious death of this Pope then "Murder in the Vatican" by Lucien Gregoire is the only choice - the latter is also the only existing complete biography of this good man written by a man who knew this Pope.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A great book, but apparently not sexy enough to br big seller..Published 12 months ago by Edmond E. Bliven
This is a compelling page turner, setting the record more accurately for the circumstances surrounding the death of Pope John Paul I. Read morePublished 23 months ago by djbinthecosmos
Anyone interested in the death of John Paul I should read three books. David Yallop's In God's Name: An Investigation Into the Murder of Pope John Paul I John Cornwell's A Thief in... Read morePublished on June 17, 2014 by Dr. Alexis Bishop
I bought this for a gift. If you are Catholic you will probably like it. I have no idea what it is about.Published on March 29, 2014 by D. Beach
Considering the subject matter, this book could have been a very difficult read. However, because of the format that is was written in, the book kept the readers attention the... Read morePublished on August 22, 2011 by John O'Connor
As I wish to leave no stone unturned, I read the book. Supposedly it was commissioned by the Vatican to "clear up" all the misinformation concerning the death of Pope John Paul I. Read morePublished on August 9, 2010 by Elizabeth Wallace
This, Cornwell's first book on the Vatican, has been given a comparative amount of praise compared to his other misinformed screeds, including the atrocious "Hitler's Pope. Read morePublished on May 20, 2008 by Lori Pieper