Book Presentation: The Pope Who Would Be King by David Kertzer
Where: Italian Cultural Institute
686 Park Ave.
212-879-4242 Price: Free
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Presentation of The Pope Who Would Be King The Exile of Pius IX and the Emergence of Modern Europe, by David Kertzer.
The author will be in conversation with Alexander Stille.
The Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Pope and Mussolini takes on a pivotal, untold story: the bloody revolution that stripped the pope of political power and signaled the birth of modern Europe.
Days after his prime minister was assassinated in the middle of Rome in November 1848, Pope Pius IX found himself a virtual prisoner in his own palace. The wave of revolution that had swept through Europe now seemed poised to end the popes’ thousand-year reign over the Papal States, if not to the papacy itself. Disguising himself as a simple parish priest, Pius escaped through a back door. Climbing inside the Bavarian ambassador’s carriage, he embarked on a journey into a fateful exile.
Only two years earlier Pius’s election had triggered a wave of optimism across Italy. After the repressive reign of the dour Pope Gregory XVI, Italians saw the youthful, benevolent new pope as the man who would at last bring the Papal States into modern times and help create a new, unified Italian nation. But Pius was caught between a desire to please his subjects and a fear, stoked by the conservative cardinals, that heeding the people’s pleas would destroy the church. The resulting drama—with a colorful cast of characters, from Louis Napoleon and his rabble-rousing cousin Charles Bonaparte to Garibaldi, Tocqueville, and Metternich—was rife with treachery, tragedy, and international power politics.
Kertzer is one of the world’s foremost experts on the history of Italy and the Vatican and has a rare ability to bring that history vividly to life. With a combination of gripping, cinematic storytelling and keen historical analysis, rooted in an unprecedented richness of archival sources, The Pope Who Would Be King sheds fascinating new light on the end of rule by divine right in the West and the emergence of modern Europe.
David I. Kertzer is the Paul Dupee, Jr. University Professor of Social Science and professor of anthropology and Italian studies at Brown University, where he served as provost from 2006 to 2011. He is the author of twelve books, including The Pope and Mussolini, winner of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Biography and the American Historical Association prize for best book on Italian history, and The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara, a finalist for the National Book Award in 1997. He has twice been awarded the Marraro Prize from the Society for Italian Historical Studies for the best book on Italian history and in 2005 was elected to membership in the American Association of Arts and Sciences.
Alexander Stille graduated with a B.A. from Yale University and earned an M.S. at Columbia. He has worked as a contributor to The New York Times, La Repubblica, The New Yorker magazine, The New York Review of Books, The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, The New Republic, Correspondent, U.S. News & World Report, The Boston Globe, and The Toronto Globe and Mail. He is the author of Benevolence and Betrayal: Five Italian Jewish Families Under Fascism (1991); Excellent Cadavers: The Mafia and the Death of the First Italian Republic (1995); The Future of the Past (2002); and The Sack of Rome: How a Beautiful European Country with a Fabled History and a Storied Culture Was Taken Over by a Man Named Silvio Berlusconi (2006). Stille is the winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Award for best work of history (1992), Premio Acqui (1992), San Francisco Chronicle Critics Choice Award (1995), and the Alicia Patterson Foundation award for journalism (1996).