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John W. O'Malley, S.J., is not only the dean of American Catholic historians, he is also one of the church's greatest and most accomplished teachers. In his superb new book, Father O'Malley combines immense learning, sparkling prose and fascinating insights to introduce readers to the always colorful history of the papacy. There can be no better guide for the educated reader to the story of the popes than Father O'Malley. James Martin, S.J., author of My Life with the Saints
For a fair-minded, lively, easy-to-read account of the oldest surviving institution in the Western world, O'Malley's offering is hard to beat. National Catholic Reporter, December 2009
Fr. O' Malley is a gifted writer, and though he must by necessity move fairly quickly through the centuries, he is capable at lingering on these characters enough to give a sense of their personality and place in the historical drama around them. He is also good at showing the movement and growth of the papacy throughout the past two millennia. Catholic Sun, November 5, 2009
Documenting fifteen hundred years of history in 300 pages is a daunting task, but one that priest and Georgetown University professor O'Malley handles with gusto and a fair hand; considering the level of emotion that the Papacy can inspire, O'Malley reserves his enthusiasm for the unexpected twists of history, rather than any particular character or school of thought. In concise but engaging prose, O'Malley manages to find virtue in popes maligned by history, and a critical approach to the frequently-lauded, while keeping an eye on the world at large.Readers eager for a breezy survey of papal history will be pleased, so long as they bring along a basic understanding of Catholic doctrine and history (or at least a capable glossary). Publishers Weekly, December 2009
The debate will continue about why the institution, one which Protestantism has tried to live without, persists anyway . . . That question about the institution called papacy persists most of all and its current issues are well presented by John O'Malley's A History of the Popes. It's an excellent addition to any serious theological library but it's also an approachable story for the general reader which most everyone will find as a good and compelling introduction to these important men of Christian history. Crossings, November 26, 2009
John W. O'Malley has written a fine narrative history of the papacy. Learned but accessible, lively but judicious, this is a story not just of personalities but context, as well-one that speaks to our own time as well as the past. Historical analysis at its best.
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