Monday, March 9, 2015

Review: Gerald Posner: God's Bankers

"God’s Bankers has it all: a rare exposé and an astounding saga marked by poisoned business titans, murdered prosecutors, mysterious deaths of private investigators, and questionable suicides; a carnival of characters from Popes and cardinals, financiers and mobsters, kings and prime ministers ..."

So with that I was eagerly anticipating a journey into the underbelly of Vatican politics and double-dealing from the time of Peter to our current Pope Francis. However, the early years were briefly touched upon until we reach the reign of Gregory XVI (1831 - 1846) when the cash-strapped Church was looking for ways to boost their coffers. Thus, the age of lay-financiers, prelates and shady businessmen begins with the Church taking uncertain steps into the world of investment and money-lending. From the reign of Leo XIII the Vatican Bank steps tentatively onto the world stage whilst headed by a select group of financial outsiders, steering the Bank through revolutionary Italy, the stock-market crash and the creation of the Papal State - the Vatican City. It is in the 20th century that the Vatican Bank takes a rather interesting stance on Germany during the 1930s and 1940s - the Vatican has spread its investments thought Fascist Italy and Germany, and is at odds with itself over preserving financial independence and fighting communism or speaking out against documented atrocities. We then move forward through the years of assisting war criminals to the influx of dubious Italian and Sicilian businessmen into the banking hierarchy, and support for fledgling anti-communist movements worldwide. 

This a is lengthy tome - with copious notes. It is not a light read - and the reader may find themselves re-reading past chapters.

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