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Warburg in Rome

3.66  ·  Rating Details ·  195 Ratings  ·  50 Reviews
David Warburg, newly minted director of the U.S. War Refugee Board, arrives in Rome at war’s end, determined to bring aid to the destitute European Jews streaming into the city. Marguerite d’Erasmo, a French-Italian Red Cross worker with a shadowed past, is initially Warburg’s guide to a complicated Rome; while a charismatic young American Catholic priest, Monsignor Kevin ...more
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published July 1st 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published January 1st 2014)
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Steven Z.
Jul 29, 2014 Steven Z. rated it really liked it
As a person who has enjoyed James Carroll’s work over the years whether he was presenting his history of the Church and Jews in CONSTANTINE’S SWORD; the difficulties of a father and son relationship during the Vietnam War in AN AMERICAN REQUIEM; or an exploration of the Pentagon and the expansion of American power in HOUSE OF WAR, I have grown to expect an absorbing read each time I pick up one of his books. Carroll, who is an ordained Catholic priest who left the priesthood to become a writer, ...more
Italo Italophiles
May 29, 2014 Italo Italophiles rated it it was amazing
Warburg in Rome is a historical novel that presents a litany of evil, shame and suffering: the evil of sadism fueled by greed, hatred and lust; the shame of those who could have acted against the evil sooner and more forcefully; and the suffering of pretty much everyone. If you are looking for a cheery read, do not look here. If you are looking for the details of some of the history of WWII and post-WWII coming to life, at least a bit, Warburg in Rome is a book that can offer you that.

At the beg
Dec 06, 2014 Amy rated it really liked it
The events of World War II are fascinating, but equally enthralling are the events that occurred just after the war ended. James Carroll investigates some of these matters in his latest novel, Warburg in Rome. David Warburg is appointed Director of the U.S. War Refugee Board, and dispatched to Rome at the end of the War, where he will attempt to assist the European Jews that have survived Hitler’s campaign. Things in Rome however are much more complicated that imagined. Warburg will cross paths ...more
Jul 09, 2014 Barbara marked it as to-read
NPR conducted a compelling interview with author, James Carroll today about his reasons for writing this book. Among other essential features he remarked how the Holocaust was about the complicity of Christian culture and of western culture. Although set as a novel I was impressed by the importance of reading this.

Aug 10, 2014 Marge rated it really liked it
Near the end of World War II, American David Warburg is sent to Rome to coordinate the U.S. effort to help displaced people. While he thinks this means mostly Jewish people, others think he needs to expand it to all sorts of people. After the war, his efforts are hampered even further by those more concerned with fighting communism than by the recent war against the Nazis.
This book really makes you do a lot of soul searching. Although it's fiction, it's based on fact, albeit controversial issue
Roger Brunyate
Jun 10, 2016 Roger Brunyate rated it it was ok
Vatican Thrills and Spills

My title is admittedly facetious. James Carroll writes a pretty good thriller, in the vein of Frederick Forsyth, Robert Ludlum, or Dan Brown. But I question the propriety, or indeed the literary viability, of writing this kind of book around such a subject. The setting, of course, is Rome, beginning with the American liberation in 1944 and continuing a few months after the end of the War. And the underlying subject is the Vatican attitude to the Holocaust, and its later
Aug 28, 2014 MA rated it liked it
Corruption at the Vatican pre and post-World War II is at the center of this novel. Carroll portrays a Vatican that is assisting the Nazis, anti-Semitic, and focused on maintaining its power. Carroll also depiccts the shifting alliances, bureaucracy, and complicities of major powers during that time. The historical facts of this story were fascinating. Unfortunately, the pace of the book was slow which surprised me because some editorial reviews referred to the novel as a thriller. I also didn’t ...more
Mark Summers
Dec 02, 2014 Mark Summers rated it liked it
I have long thought well of James Carroll, his integrity, his religious fidelity, his knowledge, his story-telling ability, and his books - fiction and non-fiction alike. Many years ago Mr. Carroll was a one-time acquaintance and I purchase every book he writes as a very tiny way of expressing my (commercial) support of, my regard, my respect, and my affection for James Carroll. Among my favorites of his are MORTAL FRIENDS, the spectacular PRINCE OF PEACE, and the perfect, National Book Award-wi ...more
The years may tick by, but the Holocaust refuses to be ignored. If you read ancient histories, it's not uncommon to read about the Romans, the Persians, or some other victorious army putting an entire population to the sword. But the Holocaust is still in our living memory, and it was not merely the result of a conquering army. Sure, we have the necessary villains (the Nazis), but the Holocaust also needed the lack of opposition from others - perhaps the most shocking aspect of the Holocaust is ...more
Aug 08, 2015 Roger rated it it was amazing
James Carroll has taken a segment of history concerning the closing days of WWII and the period following in this historic novel. The main plot concerns the Vatican complicity in the flight of Nazi fugitives to Argentina and centers on the treatment of Italian Jews during and after WWII, to include a Vatican plot called the “ratline,” which secretly relocated Nazi war criminals to Argentina and is based on factual events.
Mr. Carroll’s plot concerns four individuals in the final days of WWII and
Aug 04, 2014 Akin rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, work
Cross purpose: WWII novel enlists Vatican in saving Jews

Rome, 1944. David Warburg, an almost-but-not-quite deracinated American Jew, the eponymous hero of James Carroll’s “Warburg in Rome,” finds himself in the Eternal City. He has been sent by the U.S. Treasury Department to set up a branch of the War Refugee Board in the city – something, anything, to head off a worsening of the grim fate that has already befallen so many Jews across Europe. But Rome is
Nov 05, 2014 Bruce rated it it was amazing
I got this from the public library, read the whole thing in a couple of days and may very well buy a copy. A novel, solidly based on historical fact, about the Vatican/U.S. & British-sponsored secret ratlines set up at the end of WWII that saved thousands of Nazi war criminals bringing them to Argentina, the U.S, and elsewhere, while their Jewish victims rotted in displaced persons throughout Europe and, yes, even the U.S ( Warburg, an American Jewis ...more
Sep 23, 2014 Meepspeeps rated it it was ok
I found the history surrounding this fictional account more interesting than the characters. I'm sure the ridiculous romance-novel-style sex act descriptions were the biggest turn off: what a way to ruin a decent narrative. Even if prostituting oneself is integral to the story there is no need for the descriptions offered. I do think it's valuable for peeps, especially Western Christian peeps, to know how complicit the church was (Roman Catholics and others) in the Holocaust, and the book does a ...more
This is a good read set in Rome in the dying days of World War II and the first period after the war. A Jewish diplomat and a Catholic priest find themselves up against a conspiracy to get Nazis out of Europe to safety, a conspiracy that may well involve the highest echelons of the Vatican. Do we understand Pius's silence during the war as cowardice or something even more evil, a form of antisemitism? Carroll knows his Church and knows his Church history but his bias against Pius is clear. He do ...more
Oct 20, 2014 Susan rated it really liked it
First book I've read by Carroll but will look for other books by him. The author is interested in the aftermath of the Second World War and the Holocaust and, especially, the part that the Catholic Church took in protecting Nazis and in establishing the Rat Line that got war criminals out of Europe and to South America. Carroll really represents the complexity of his characters lives - they are lawyers, American officials and soldiers, priests, nuns, good people, evil people. But decision made i ...more
Aug 04, 2015 Melaney rated it it was amazing
James Carroll is a former priest who has written both fiction and nonfiction related to the relationship between the Vatican and the Nazis. Warburg in Rome is fiction, but much of what it covers related to Rome just before and after the end of World War II is real. Carroll is a wonderful writer, who draws such detailed, complex characters that I cared about so much by the end of the book that I wanted to follow them on their next adventure. One thing the book makes you think about is the differe ...more
Julia Alberino
Apr 01, 2015 Julia Alberino rated it it was amazing
I almost never give a book five stars, and with this one I hesitated between four and five. In the end, though, I went with the five because: 1) I learned a lot about a subject in which I am very interested; i.e., the events of the immediate post-World War II period in Europe and the United States; 2) there were characters I hated, characters I loved, and characters to whom I had a mixed reaction, but I found myself really caring about what happened to each of the principal and many of the secon ...more
Elizabeth Sienko
Dec 07, 2014 Elizabeth Sienko rated it really liked it
This was a difficult book to read because there were so many characters and their roles in the story were complex. But the story is a compelling one. Basically the church ie the Vatican's role in hiding Nazi criminals and using the church's influence to hide money, spies, etc. at the end of the war in Rome. A disturbing read. Although the characters are fiction, the novel is based on actual historical accounts of the Church's conflict with the Jewish people.
Mar 13, 2016 Joanne rated it it was ok
Carroll tells an important story about Vatican complicity in the escape of Nazi war criminals (the "ratline") to South America at the end of WWII. His characters are overly simple, but the truths uncovered here about whom the Catholic Church was willing to protect, in the aftermath of the Holocaust, in order (so it was justified) to prevent Communism from gaining a toe hold in Europe, is so compelling that it almost doesn't matter if protagonists are one dimensional.
Jan 01, 2015 Toadinhole rated it really liked it
It was a bit of history that I was not familiar with. The refugee chaos during and after the second world war was a nightmare. The number of home destroyed and people with no where to go was distressing. The Jews in particular were greatly persecuted all over Europe even after the war. And the Brits didn't want them in Palestine. Lots of impossible to fix problems being avoided by politicians.
Blaine Morrow
Apr 27, 2016 Blaine Morrow rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-of-2014
Carroll tells a bleak but historically accurate tale of complicity - involving the Vatican, the British and American governments, and several individual characters - that centers on Nazi war crimes and the plight of Jewish refugees. The characters are universally challenged by moral dilemmas and their own human frailties, but the novel presents heroes and heroines who are memorable.
Sep 29, 2014 Olivia rated it it was ok
I got 200+ pages in before finally giving up on this book. I kept waiting and waiting thinking that soon I would be able to figure out a specific conflict that could be resolved by the characters. Never happened. All the Vatican politics were above my head. I don't know enough about Catholic rank and titles to understand the Vatican.
Sep 06, 2014 Stephen rated it liked it
Recommends it for: History Fans
There is a good story in this book, and James Carroll is obviously a good author. This was a good read, but it could have been better. The book felt like there was a lot of research in the material, but as a novel, you kind of get the impression that Carroll was winging it. The plot felt unfocused, and the characters all seemed under developed. In fact Warburg never seemed like anything more than a secondary character. You never felt Warburg working to make things happen, things just happened fo ...more
Marilyn Stanley
May 10, 2014 Marilyn Stanley rated it it was amazing

I received the book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

From a historical prospective this is an excellent book. I thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish and recognize that the author did a fantastic job of 'telling it like it was' - GREAT JOB!!

I would highly recommend this book.
Sep 04, 2014 Debbie rated it really liked it
I had a difficult time getting properly absorbed in this book, but I'm glad I pushed through. The intrigue of politics regarding the Roman Catholic Church, WWII, Jewish refugees and Americans has been fascinating and quite an eye opener to say the least. Warburg in Rome went far beyond a history lesson, offering up exquisite details to a time fraught with danger, suspense and hope for humanity.
Richard Epstein
Nov 02, 2014 Richard Epstein rated it really liked it
Truth be told, it's not much of a novel, but the story it tells -- the connivance of the Vatican in the murder of Jews and the escape of Nazis -- is too important to forget, and it is very well told here. It's a terrible book, in the proper sense of "terrible."
Aug 12, 2014 Peggy rated it really liked it
Important history to know and let in to our hearts and minds. Esp. In context of current battles in Israel Palestine and as we read the war making in the daily news.
A bit heavy on male sexuality for my taste but that is minor. Engaging read.
Oct 12, 2015 Carmen rated it liked it
David Warburg is sent to Rome during World War II to help find the Jewish refugees and help them. He discovers that he is often roadblocked by the Vatican and the American services. Difficult emotionally to read.
May 26, 2014 Annie rated it liked it
David Warburg is an up-and-comer at the U.S. Treasury when he is appointed to head up the War Refugees Board. The Board's pilot project is to rescue 1,000 Jewish refugees to upstate New York. Warburg is not a religious Jew, but he has been wanting to get into the fight since the beginning. James Carroll's Warburg in Rome tells his story. Carroll uses real history to give Warburg's tale a sense of the real post-war tragedy of the ratlines and the struggle of Jews and displaced persons to find a n ...more
Dave Lawlor
May 17, 2015 Dave Lawlor rated it liked it
This was a good novel about wartime intrigue in Rome. The dramatic events are real and the complex characters on the shallow side leave me feeling three stars.

I love James Carroll but found this one sluggish at times, surprising given the the setting and the the talented author.
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James Carroll was born in Chicago and raised in Washington, D.C. He has been a civil rights worker, an antiwar activist, and a community organizer in Washington and New York. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1969 and served as Catholic chaplain at Boston University. Carroll left the priesthood to become a novelist and playwright. He lives in Boston with his wife, the novelist Alexandra Marshal ...more
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“...she had discovered within herself the unlikely gift for functioning with equilibrium and efficiency inside a full-blown, unending nightmare. [A Red Cross worker during WWII in Italy]” 2 likes
“...the nobility of what humans could be capable of, if only they weren't human.” 0 likes
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