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A Special Mission

ISBN: 978-0-7927-4856-4
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Full Title: A Special Mission: Hitler's Secret Plot to Seize the Vatican and Kidnap Pope Pius XII

Journalist Dan Kurzman's A Special Mission was a controversial title. While the bulk of the book, devoted to the complex relationship between Germany and Vatican City and the moral gray area carefully treaded by Pope Pius XII, was presented with effectiveness, the smaller portion (which dramatically stole the title of the book) about high SS official Karl Wolff's claims about a plan to kidnap the pope became the subject of academic debate. Wolff was presented as one whose self preservation instinct sat foremost in his mind, thus while he orchestrated the Holocaust with utmost loyalty, he also sabotaged selected orders, including the papal kidnapping plot, in order to protect himself should Germany lose the war. Kurzman's conclusion of Wolff's less-than-trustworthy characteristic ironically placed doubt over Wolff's claims about such a plot, and holes in the evidence the author presented began to appear. It was difficult for me to concretely separate truth and speculation from these pages, but it did provide me further insight into the Vatican involvement in dealing with the threat of Nazism, with the threat of Communism, with the survival of the Catholic religion in occupied Europe, and the survival of Jews.

I had reviewed this title in its audio book format, and reader George Wilson did a good job reading it, even through the many rhetoric questions that the author included in the writing.

I would not place A Special Mission on my recommendation list. Even though I did take away certain new knowledge and certain inspirations for further learning, the fact that the author mixed speculation into what was billed as a work of history made me cautious while going through some parts of the book, which was not a comforting feeling.

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