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    By: John Julius Norwich

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    Well known for his histories of Norman Sicily, Venice, the Byzantine Empire and the Mediterranean, John Julius Norwich has now turned his attention to the oldest continuing institution in the world, tracing the papal line down the centuries from St Peter himself – traditionally (though by no means historically) the first pope – to the present Benedict XVI.Of the 280-odd holders of the supreme office, some have unques­tionably been saints; others have wallowed in unspeakable iniquity.From the legend of Pope Joan to the majestic pontiffs of the Renaissance, the Borgias and Medicis; from Reformation to Counter-Reformation; from Pius XII and the Holocaust to today’s Benedict XVI, struggling to deal with appalling revelations of sexual misbehaviour within the Church – the pace never slackens.John Julius Norwich, an agnostic with no religious axe to grind, has a thrilling and important tale to tell – and in this rich, authoritative book he does it full justice.

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