Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Review of "Sacred Causes" by Michael Burleigh, Part 2

Burleigh spends some time dealing with the sensitive subject of Pope Pius XII's conduct in relation to the Holocaust.  The debate over Pius' wartime role has developed considerably over recent years, and the state of the question seems to have moved beyond the rather extreme positions taken by some commentators in the past.  By contrast, Burleigh's endeavours to exculpate Pius have a slightly dated feel to them.  This is partly because the book was published in 2006, but (as Burleigh himself notes) the 'Pius wars' were already old news by then.  The controversy over Pius' wartime role has been running since at least the 1960s.  John Cornwell published Hitler's Pope in 1999, then retreated to a more agnostic position in The Pope in Winter in 2004.  Rabbi David Dalin's case for the defence, The Myth of Hitler's Pope, appeared in 2005, following The Pius War, an anthology published in 2004 by Dalin and a conservative journalist.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Review of "Sacred Causes" by Michael Burleigh, Part 1

This is a fascinating, trenchant, witty, absorbing and long book.  It seeks, in essence, to explore 20th century history by looking at the intersection of politics and secular events with religious and quasi-religious ideas and movements.