I can’t blame you for singing “we are family, I got all my sisters with me…”now. As a matter of fact, I’m doing it too. BUT, oh boy, once you read this one you won’t be singing it so carelessly anymore. Guaranteed.
Let me take you back to the Italy of greatest minds in the history. We shall meet with Michelangelo, Machiavelli and many many more and it’s hard to argue, that this was somewhat of an intellectual climax of our good planet so far. What is even harder to debate, though, is that when it comes to dirty minds, we will have to time-travel a trifle more to Sodomy to find some competition and I know way too little about that one to do that.
Puzo knew about it certainly less than he learned about the era of, who he deemed to be the predecessor of all the dons, Pope Alexander VI (Borgia).
Let me tell you, this book can get really nasty and Puzo does it in his very own way, where he describes even the worst possible acts with such a tenderness that at times you feel like “ah ok, it’s some bad shit they did, but they are not the worst people ever…I mean, they were just too weak to fight their desires, aren’t we all victim of the same sin from time to time too?”. (And you naively jerk your head from side to side)
Well, you certainly remember yourself heading to the nearest mobsters recruiting center after reading The Godfather. Feats, these grand people of God do, are way worse, so you might not end up being excited as much as you were back then, but you will still have some hard times to condemn them. (I shall help you with that a bit later when reviewing Erasmus’s Praise of Folly, but shhh about that one for now…)
Puzo would have an automatic 8, but this book was finished by somebody else (for obvious and not very jolly reason) and although he’s not bad, he’s no Puzo.
I guess you won’t be too surprised by the corruption of the Catholic Church in its heyday, but this one really is a tough one to swallow. Again, that relentless romantic in Puzo makes it somewhat better. In fact, he makes it a rather philosophical riddle, as it could be deemed as just yet another display of people not being good or evil, but both good AND evil…
“Pope Alexander smiled. He seemed more amused with the story than horrified. “The Baglioni are true believers,” he said. “They believe in paradise. Such a great gift. How otherwise can man bear this moral life? Unfortunately, such a belief also gives evil men the courage to commit great crimes in the name of good and God.”