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The Pius War

• 2004 • 268 pages

Recent years have seen a spate of bestselling books, all from major publishers, defaming the reputation of Pope Pius XII by accusing him of “silence” at best, complicity at worst in the Nazi persecution and genocide of the Jews. Meanwhile, the task of defending the Pope has fallen mainly to reviewers — whose work, brilliant though it was, has been scattered in various newspapers, magazines, and scholarly journals, making it nearly impossible for the average reader to gauge the results. Now, in “The Pius War: Responses to the Critics of Pius XII,” Joseph Bottum has joined with Rabbi David G. Dalin to gather a representative and powerful sample of these reviews, deliberately chosen from a wide range of publications. Together with a team of professors, historians, and other experts, these reviewers thoroughly investigate — and conclusively refute — the claims attacking Pius XII.

“The definitive answer”

In his review of The Pius War, the Rev. Richard John Neuhaus, executive editor or First Things, writes:

“The Pius War will likely remain the definitive answer to the slew of malicious and misleading books that have in recent decades assailed Pius XII for his ‘silence,’ or worse, during the period of Hitler and the Holocaust. Turning the tables, Rabbi Dalin makes a persuasive case that Pius should be honored as a ‘righteous gentile’ in the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem. Of inestimable value, and the product of years of laborious effort, is an annotated bibliography by William Doino, Jr. It is almost two hundred pages in length and will become an indispensable reference for all responsible writers on Pius XII, the Holy See, and the Hitler era. The Pius War includes a brilliant critique of John Carroll’s Constantine’s Sword by Robert Louis Wilken. . . . On the specifics of what Pius did or did not do, could or could not do, during the Holocaust, and also on the larger theological questions addressed by Wilken and others, The Pius War will likely be an important resource in advancing the cause of Pius XII toward his canonization.”

“A tour de force of scholarship, and highly readable”

“A valuable corrective to the over the top ‘Pope bashing’ so prevalant in politically correct academic circles. Taken as a whole the contributors’ critique of the recent attacks on Pope Pius XII’s conduct during World War II offers a compelling case for the defense. The annotated bibliography of the dispute is an indespensible vade mecum for future scholars.” – Marshall Breger, Catholic University of America

“Rabbi David Dalin’s omnibus review in the February 26, 2001, Weekly Standard . . . opened and changed my mind. To see it here at the center of this fine collection, buttressed by William Doino’s astonishing bibliography, is a great pleasure. David Dalin and Joseph Bottum are indeed friends of truth.” — David Klinghoffer

“A devastating blow to those who claim to be combating anti-Semitism yet descend into deceit, hate, and anti-Christianism. Read it and find yourself stirred to indignation at how the smear of secularism stained a righteous reputation, and be inspired by these brave authors who herein right a historic wrong.” — Rabbi Daniel Lapin, President, Toward Tradition

“Those who have read the well-publicized works of Pius’s critics will find much to ponder in this collection of patient and thoughtful writings in his defense.” — Robert P. George, Princeton University

“The contributors to this important volume have made judicious arguments in defense of the actions of Pope Pius XII before, during, and after the Holocaust. These arguments deserve an equally judicious hearing from non-Catholics – especially from Jews – who need to know how they are to judge this pope when they remember an unforgettable event in their own history and in the history of the West.” — David Novak, University of Toronto

“One of the best volumes to emerge from the controversy so far. . . . a tour de force of scholarship, and highly readable to boot.” — Michael Potemra, National Review

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