Heirs of the fisherman: behind the scenes of papal death and succession (Print and ebook)

by John-Peter Pham

The election of a new pope always captures the world’s attention, as all eyes turn to the chimney atop the Sistine Chapel, where the color of the smoke is our only clue to the secret deliberations inside. In this fascinating volume, former Vatican insider John-Peter Pham takes us where outsiders have never gone before, providing vital background to the selection of the heir of the fisherman.
Here is a highly accurate portrait of the modern Vatican–indeed, the only account to reveal the striking changes to papal succession procedures made by Pope John Paul II. Blending political and ecclesiastical history, Pham goes beyond a mere description of the complex rituals–including a rare insight into the dramatic shifts inside the College of Cardinals, whose 130 members now hail from 57 nations around the globe. Pham takes us into the secret conclave (from the Latin cum clave, “with key”), where the electors are kept under lock and key, incommunicado, until they have selected a new pope. Here we find a fascinating chronicle of political intrigue set in the context of ritual–including a chapter devoted to the intrigues of the 20th century where the first conclave had an emperor’s veto and the last was won by the first non-Italian in four centuries because the Italians were bitterly divided.
In a most timely analysis, Pham also provides a valuable one-by-one assessment of the present-day cardinals and possible candidates (papabili, or pope-ables) to succeed John Paul II. He explores the legacy of this highly influential pope–looking beyond his papacy to discuss the highly-charged issues that his successor will have to confront, including financial and sexual scandals, the roles of priests and women, and the very future of the church itself.
And throughout the book, he provides a gold mine of information that make this book an indispensable reference, including appendices that contain biographical notes on many of the key personalities of Catholicism past and present as well as a useful glossary of Catholic history and theology.
Here then is an illuminating history and must-have guide to a vitally important world event, one that is moving ever closer and will be watched with intense interest by more than a billion people around the globe.



Mrs. Dredd Scott: a life on slavery’s frontier (Ebook)

by Lea VanderVelde

Among the most infamous U.S. Supreme Court decisions is Dred Scott v. Sandford . Despite the case’s signal importance as a turning point in America’s history, the lives of the slave litigants have receded to the margins of the record, as conventional accounts have focused on the case’s judges and lawyers. In telling the life of Harriet, Dred’s wife and co-litigant in the case, this book provides a compensatory history to the generations of work that missed key sources only recently brought to light. Moreover, it gives insight into the reasons and ways that slaves used the courts to establish their freedom.
A remarkable piece of historical detective work, Mrs. Dred Scott chronicles Harriet’s life from her adolescence on the 1830s Minnesota-Wisconsin frontier, to slavery-era St. Louis, through the eleven years of legal wrangling that ended with the high court’s notorious decision. The book not only recovers her story, but also reveals that Harriet may well have been the lynchpin in this pivotal episode in American legal history.
Reconstructing Harriet Scott’s life through innovative readings of journals, military records, court dockets, and even frontier store ledgers, VanderVelde offers a stunningly detailed account that is at once a rich portrait of slave life, an engrossing legal drama, and a provocative reassessment of a central event in U.S. constitutional history. More than a biography, the book is a deep social history that freshly illuminates some of the major issues confronting antebellum America, including the status of women, slaves, Free Blacks, and Native Americans.


Light of the world: the Pope, the Church, and the sign of the times/ Benedict XVI

a conversation with Peter Seewald;translated by Michael J. Miller and Adrian J. Walker

Foreword by George Weigel

Never has a Pope, in a book-length interview, dealt so directly with such wide-ranging and controversial issues as Pope Benedict XVI does in Light of the World. Taken from a recent week-long series of interviews with veteran journalist Peter Seewald, this book tackles head-on some of the greatest issues facing the world of our time. Seewald poses such forthright questions to Pope Benedict as:

What caused the clergy sexual abuse in the Catholic Church?

Was there a “cover up”?

Have you considered resigning?

Does affirming the goodness of the human body mean a plea for “better sex”?

Can there be a genuine dialogue with Islam?

Should the Church rethink Catholic teaching on priestly celibacy, women priests, contraception, and same-sex relationships?

Holy Communion for divorced-and-remarried Catholics?

Is there a schism in the Catholic Church?

Should there be a Third Vatican Council?

Is there any hope for Christian unity?

Is Christianity the only truth?

Can the Pope really speak for Jesus Christ?

How can the Pope claim to be “infallible”?

Is there a “dictatorship of relativism” today?

Twice before these two men held wide-ranging discussions, which became the best-selling books Salt of the Earth and God and the World. Then, Seewald’s discussion partner was Joseph Ratzinger, head of the Vatican’s chief doctrinal office. Now, Joseph Ratzinger is Pope Benedict XVI, the spiritual leader of the world’s over one billion Catholics. Though Seewald now interviews the Pope himself, the journalist “pulls no punches”, posing some of the thorniest questions any Pope has had to address. Believers and unbelievers will be fascinated to hear Benedict’s thoughtful, straightforward and thought-provoking replies. This is no stern preachment or ponderous theological tract, but a lively, fast-paced, challenging, even entertaining exchange.


Life upon these shores: looking at African American history, 1513-2008

By Henry Louis Gates

Henry Louis Gates, Jr., gives us a sumptuously illustrated landmark book tracing African American history from the arrival of the conquistadors to the election of Barack Obama.

Informed by the latest, sometimes provocative scholarship and including more than seven hundred images—ancient maps, fine art, documents, photographs, cartoons, posters—Life Upon These Shores focuses on defining events, debates, and controversies, as well as the signal achievements of people famous and obscure. Gates takes us from the sixteenth century through the ordeal of slavery, from the Civil War and Reconstruction through the Jim Crow era and the Great Migration; from the civil rights and black nationalist movements through the age of hip-hop to the Joshua generation. By documenting and illuminating the sheer diversity of African American involvement in American history, society, politics, and culture, Gates bracingly disabuses us of the presumption of a single “black experience.”

Life Upon These Shores is a book of major importance, a breathtaking tour de force of the historical imagination.


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