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Church of Spies


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About the Author

Mark Riebling is a path-breaking writer on secret intelligence. Theauthor of Wedge: The Secret War Between the FBI and CIA, he lives in New York.


Wall Street Journal "A page-turning book... Fascinating." Washington Times "[A] remarkable book... Highly readable... [Riebling] has written what is one of the more important books on intelligence of the year. His painstaking research and vivid writing make it a five-cloak/five-dagger read." War on the Rocks "After years of painstaking research in the Vatican's archives, Riebling has a different and heart-pounding story to tell of the Pope's network of spies that fought to bring about Hitler's downfall... [An] amazing book that combines the rigor of history with the storytelling of a novel." National Review "A groundbreaking new history of the Vatican-German Resistance... Writing with the craft of a novelist and the conscience of a meticulous scholar, Riebling has produced a masterly account of these events." Crisis Magazine "In compelling detail, Riebling looks not only at the strategies that various anti-Nazi officers and other co-conspirators pursued to kill Hitler, but the kind of government structures that would need to be imposed on shattered Germany if the conspiratorial plots succeeded... Riebling's compelling new evidence should put to rest the propaganda charging that Pius XII was at best a weak reed and at worst a Nazi sympathizer." H-Net "Church of Spies sheds light on the secret actions and covert war waged by Pius, the Vatican, the German Catholic Church, and various German Catholic citizens against Hitler and the Nazis... By weaving together numerous storylines in a chronological fashion from 1939 to 1945, the history of this period reads more like an exciting popular fiction spy novel than an academic work... [A]n extremely readable and interesting work." Joseph Bottum, Washington Free Beacon "Riebling recounts in a fast, readable style the fumblings, betrayals, and bad luck that plagued attempts to remove Hitler. Through it all, he shows the Vatican looming in the background -- the only support on which the conspirators could count, the only consistent contact they had with the Allies, and one of the few moral centers to which they could look." George Weigel, First Things "[Church of Spies] adds a mass of new evidence to what we know, now, about what the Pope and the Church did to deal with the mortal threat to civilization posed by Hitler and German National Socialism." George Weigel, Distinguished Senior Fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center "This gripping book, the product of extensive and fine-grained historical research, should change the course of the 'Pius Wars,' if both critics and defenders of Pius XII take its evidence seriously." Michael Burleigh, author of The Third Reich: A New History "In this exciting and original work, Mark Riebling has unearthed vital new sources, and he writes elegantly and persuasively on a fascinating subject that has remained hidden in history's shadows." Rabbi David Dalin, author of The Myth of Hitler's Pope "In Church of Spies, Mark Riebling provides a groundbreaking and riveting account of Pope Pius XII's secret war against Hitler. This richly documented book makes an important contribution to contemporary scholarship about Pius XII and to our understanding of the historical legacy of his pontificate." Gerald Posner, author of God's Bankers: A History of Money and Power at the Vatican "Mark Riebling takes readers into the seldom-explored mysterious world of Vatican espionage with a deeply researched and fresh account that reads like a spy thriller. The crackling narrative of Church of Spies delivers an important and compelling addition to the debate over the legacy of Pius XII, the most powerful and complex Pope of modern times." Sam Harris, author of The End of Faith "A fascinating contribution to the literature on the Holocaust, the history of the papacy, and the life of Pius XII." Sir Martin Gilbert, official biographer of Winston Churchill "While the Pope hesitated to publicly provoke Hitler in foolhardy way, he had no hesitation in secretly opposing the Third Reich and its crimes. The record of the assistance Pius XII provided, through his representatives, to the German resistance, and the actions they took, under his guidance, is extraordinary. Without minimizing the complicity of individual Christians, or the role of Christian anti-Semitism, Mark Riebling shows that the Vatican took a very powerful stance against the Nazis. It is especially important for Jewish people--and I am Jewish myself--that this information is now being gathered for all to see." Catholic World Report "[A] blockbuster of a book which not only defends Pius XII...but utterly demolishes the Black Legend by showing in intricate and meticulously documented detail...that from the very start of the war the Pope cooperated secretly with anti-Nazi forces in Hitler's thousand year Reich who sought, first, to remove the Fuhrer from power; and when that failed, to kill him... Riebling's book is beautifully written, and reads like a novel... [R]iveting." The American Catholic "[T]he wealth of detail the author has unearthed by his meticulous research...is impressive and absolutely damning against those who mendaciously have attacked Pius XII as either the silent Pope or even a sub rosa ally of Hitler. This book is highly recommended." Breitbart News "[F]ascinating...offers a compelling narrative of the actions taken by Pope Pius to stop Hitler from carrying out his campaign of world domination and ethnic cleansing. Backed by a mass of carefully compiled documentation, Riebling shows that Pius cooperated in a variety of plots, initiated by patriotic, anti-Nazi Germans, to assassinate Hitler and replace the National Socialist regime with a government that would make peace with the west." Australian Financial Review "Moves as swiftly as a novel." Library Journal "Clandestine organizations are hard to reconstruct and Riebling has mined an impressive array of archival sources to tell this fascinating story." George Weigel, First Things blog "[A] deeply researched study of Pius XII's involvement in plots to depose Adolf Hitler... It's a great read, so give it on those grounds; but it's morally permissible if you give it to annoy the New York Times." Eric Metaxas, New York Times #1 bestselling author, nationally syndicated radio host "Church of Spies shows, with significant research to back it up, that Pope Pius the Twelfth was not, in fact, Hitler's Pope, as he has wrongly been called, but quite the contrary, an enemy of Hitler's who worked behind the scenes against him. Mark Riebling documents how people of faith linked arms against evil that was Nazism and did not turn a blind eye against it. This is a fascinating, riveting, and a deeply important corrective to the false narrative about the Catholic church during World War II." Military History "[A] revealing history of Pius' wartime dealings with the German resistance to Nazi rule... Readers will be surprised at the steady stream of anti-Hitler conspiracies, several of which reached the point where dates were set and bombs assembled." Newcastle Herald "Meticulously researched... A fascinating account of the many Catholics, including priests, who were part of the intelligence network that actively fought the Nazi regime." Aletia "Church of Spies is well worth reading for the fascinating story." Kirkus "Riebling, an expert on secret intelligence, compellingly explores the papacy's involvement in espionage during World War II... This book has much to surprise, especially the many German officers, separately and together, involved in attempts on Hitler's life... Pius, vilified by critics who believed he ignored Germany's atrocities, comes off as a politically savvy man who realized his interference would precipitate Hitler's mortal overreaction against German Catholics. Not only a dramatic disclosure of the Vatican's covert actions, but also an absorbing, polished story for all readers of World War II history."

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