Warburg in Rome by James Carroll *** (of 4)
I learned a lot about the plight of European Jews in the years 1944 to 1947. American Jews knew of the death camps, but widespread American anti-Semitism prevented Roosevelt from even mentioning the word, Jews, in his fight against the Nazis. He could not or did not direct strikes against concentration camps or the trains that fed them and the U.S. refused admission to Jewish refugees escaping the Nazis. Before this book, I knew the Pope was at least silent on the issue of the Holocaust while it was happening, but Carroll’s opinion is that the Vatican was complicit, rather than just mum. The Vatican actively aided and abetted Nazis. When the war ended, and Part II of Warburg in Rome begins, the church and the U.S. government were so focused on the upcoming cold war with Stalin’s Soviet Union that they conspired to ferret Nazi war criminals out of Europe to Argentina in ways that might help their anti-communist campaign. But the fact that I can’t quite explain what the Americans got out of saving Nazis in their fight against communism is one of many flaws with this novel. The characters – a non-practicing, Yale educated Jew, a beguiling Italian spy whose breasts always seemed worth mentioning, an Irish American priest from New York city — are all two dimensional at best. The plot and dialogue are simultaneously confusing and as predictable as a black and white movie from the 1940s. To his credit, Carroll, a former priest himself, is incredibly even-handed and sympathetic to the Jews and nothing short of distraught at the actions of his church. He made me want to read more about the role of the Church in WW II, but I’m not sure I want to recommend this book to anyone else.
One Response to “Warburg in Rome by James Carroll *** (of 4)”
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Hey Eric – was perusing your bread etc discussing and saw this post. I heard this guy talking about his latest book “Christ Actually” and thought it would be interesting or, perhaps, interesting to Chris, who is interested in everything. Me, I’m a dilletante so while I was interested in the NPR piece, I don’t know if I’d have the attention span for the book. Anyway, maybe i’ll read this book!