Absolute Monarchs: A History of the Papacy (Random House)
The Papacy has held astonishing power over billions throughout history, and that power has been seized by good and bad leaders alike. This book, just released in paperback, covers all the way back from St. Peter up until the present day, exploring the lives of popes both adored and abhorred, and of course the mysterious Pope Joan makes an appearance. The things that have been done either by or for popes are simply astonishing. It was, after all, a Pope (Leo I) who sent home Attila the Hun who was set on attack, and a Pope (Innocent I) who set terms with Alaric the Goth. But there were also Popes like Alexander VI, who didn’t have “the slightest glimmering of religious feeling,” as Norwich says in chapter 18. The center of the book has several images of some of the gorgeous paintings and mosaics of Popes, or even those thought to be Popes, in beautiful bright color and quality. I honestly can’t wait to take this book home and dive into it!