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God's Bankers: A History of Money and Power at the Vatican

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3.97  ·  Rating details ·  1,078 ratings  ·  151 reviews
A deeply reported, fast-paced expose of the money and the cardinals-turned-financiers at the heart of the Vatican's biggest, most powerful religious institution from an acclaimed journalist with exhaustive research techniques. (The New York Times).

From a master chronicler of legal and financial misconduct, a magnificent investigation nine years in the making, this book
...more
Hardcover, 752 pages
Published February 3rd 2015 by Simon Schuster
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Thomas McCuiston It's a fascinating read, a little long but well worth the effort.
Amber Dunten I thought he was fairly frank that nobody can really be sure who the Nogara was in the report, but he personally couldn't find any credible…moreI thought he was fairly frank that nobody can really be sure who the Nogara was in the report, but he personally couldn't find any credible alternatives. He also mentioned that there were some possible non-incriminating (or at least less incriminating) reasons Nogara might have been working for that organization mentioned in the report (can't remember its name).

Posner has a reputation for careful and thorough research, and I figure if you're going to write an expose on the Vatican, you'd better make damn sure you're right.(less)

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BlackOxford
Jul 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: italian, church
Can’t Touch Me

Despite its pretensions to the contrary, the Catholic Church is a typical, in fact the prototypical, large-scale corporate organisation: complicated, more than occasionally corrupt, and intensely resistant to reform of any sort. The Vatican is where organisational policy not just religious doctrine is made and enforced.

Sexual scandal makes better press, but it is in finance that the system of ecclesial government is most dramatically out of control. Posner's analysis shows that
...more
David V.
Nov 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
It took a while to read this book. I'd received it as an ARC from the publisher. It's 700 pages, has footnotes on many pages, and the last 175 pages are more notes. Thoroughly researched book about the power and money struggles within the Vatican. This will blow some minds when it's released in February 2015. Inept and/or naive leadership; money laundering(including Mafia funds); people in power positions who have no knowledge or experience in what they're supposed to be doing; ignoring advice ...more
David Eppenstein
Oct 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
I haven't read a good book about the Church or its history in some time. When I saw this book in the store I picked it up hoping it would be better than the last couple I've read. I wasn't expecting much because, let's face it, can a book about finances be all that engaging? In truth, it does deal a lot with banking transactions and financial matters but the technical stuff can be glossed over. If I have a complaint it is the book's length, just over 500 pages and then copious notes and a ...more
Baal Of
Apr 29, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, history
This is an exhaustively researched, and exhausting book, covering the history of the Vatican bank. The amount money-laundering, fraud, and criminal activity performed by the Catholic Church is overwhelming, and I find it amazing that anyone has the gall to defend this corrupt criminal organization anymore. Posner is an insider, as a practicing Catholic, so it's difficult to entertain the claims that this book was written as an attack, and yet, by presenting the facts, with 200 pages of ...more
Melisende
"God’s Bankers has it all: a rare exposé and an astounding saga marked by poisoned business titans, murdered prosecutors, mysterious deaths of private investigators, and questionable suicides; a carnival of characters from Popes and cardinals, financiers and mobsters, kings and prime ministers ..."

So with that I was eagerly anticipating a journey into the underbelly of Vatican politics and double-dealing from the time of Peter to our current Pope Francis. However, the early years were briefly
...more
Amber Dunten
RAGE, rage against the dying of the light...

I'm convinced that's the only thing a sane person can feel toward the Catholic church after reading this book. Regardless of how you feel about God, one thing is abundantly clear: God is not in charge of this organization. Men are. Corrupt, conceited, self-centered, greedy, narrow-minded, short-sighted, cowardly men no better than anyone else on this green planet, and often a lot worse than some. If these douchebags have really been doing God's will
...more
Justin Evans
Jun 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history-etc
A great "non-fiction" book, in the sense that it's gripping and racy, but not particularly good history (it's a chronicle, a recording of facts, rather than an understanding of them) nor a good book. This latter is the thing's main problem: the subtitle was clearly an afterthought, and Posner has just thrown in everything he researched, rather than finding the excellent core of the book (i.e., the story of the Vatican Bank) and sticking to that. So you have to read a bunch of stuff about late ...more
Richard
Dec 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2018
This book was recommended to me by Noel Jackson. It was fascinating an eye-opening. It tells a compelling, well-researched and fact-based story of banking and corruption in the Vatican. It addresses Jewish gold stolen in WW II, aid to help Nazis escape to South America, money laundering, and sex scandals. Unexpectedly, I found the book difficult to put down and found myself often reading well beyond my 30 minutes of scheduled reading in the morning.
Lulu  Opio
Jan 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Mafias in cloaks.
Ann
Apr 20, 2015 rated it liked it
What a depressing book; over 500 detailed pages of Vatican crimes in an unrelenting list. It is the story of money laundering, murder, suicide and pedophilia. It reads like a history of the Mafia; kidnappings, murders, suicides and suitcases of cash in hidden accounts. Posner followed the Vatican banks as they laundered Nazi booty extracted from Jews and used to protect Nazi criminals fleeing Germany after the war. A series of pacts, signed by Hitler, extracted taxes from Catholic churches and ...more
Matt Smith
Jul 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
The dinosaurs never really went extinct. A lot of them did, but not all of them. Those that survived evolved and you see what became of the dinosaurs every day: birds. Dinosaurs persist because they learned how to fly.

Did you know the Roman Empire still exists today? Not as Italy. Italy is too wholly its own different thing to be considered Rome's evolutionary descendent. So too, the Holy Roman Empire essentially just became a proto-Germany rather than Rome's actual offspring. And the Byzantine
...more
Nigel Watchel
Jul 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book has changed my dislike of the RC church to abhorrence and disgust. They were complicit in the Holocaust, money laundering for various criminal gangs and the continued coverup of pedophile priests and have yet to make meaningful progress in fixing these issues.
Andrew
God's Banker's: A History of Money and Power at the Vatican - by Gerald Posner, is an expose style history book, which closely examines the sovereign Vatican City's history within the international banking and financial systems. Beginning in the mid-19th century, the Vatican's attitude toward money, and the Catholic taboo against interest bearing loans. begins to unravel as the Vatican City loses territory to Italian nationalists, and is relegated to a small city state, first encompassing the ...more
Chris P
Feb 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is the best and most exciting history book on the Vatican and its finances this reader has ever read, written in a contemporary fashion including plenty of new information that has not been disclosed before. In the Preface, Gerald Posner clearly lays out what he intends to do and executes. Despite being 702 pages long including the Notes but excluding the Index, this reader was never bored with the narrative as other history books can drag and when authors color the narrative with their ...more
Cynthia
Jul 01, 2015 rated it liked it
A detailed and comprehensively researched look at the long history of the Vatican banking system. At once compelling, enlightening, horrifying, and terribly depressing, I'm very glad to have read the book because I received a comprehensive education on the Vatican, how it works, how it does or doesn't impact other countries (and perhaps even the course of history), the role money plays in its operations and an incredibly eye-opening look at the very fallible humans of the Holy See. That said, ...more
Angela
Feb 10, 2016 rated it liked it
So I only made it about a quarter of the way through this book. The information it contains is absolutely fascinating, and it's presented in an unbiased way (as far as I can tell). The chapters about the early years of the Papacy through WWII were eye-opening, to say the least. I highly recommend reading them; these chapters reveal a lot. However, once it got to more modern times, the narrative was just too steeped in economics and the wheelings and dealings of stock trades, bank shares, ...more
Kevin
Oct 12, 2015 rated it did not like it
It just wasn't good. There was an incredible amount of information but not all of it was particularly relevant and there was almost no analysis of that information. I still don't have the greatest understanding of the Vatican Bank even though I slogged through almost 800 pages of this tome.
He seems to be more interested in scandals than a thorough review of the Vatican Bank. And listen. I am a gay atheist so it is not like I am at all vested in the catholic church but can we deal with the
...more
Robert Davidson
Aug 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
After reading this rather large book it would be interesting to be at the Pearly Gates listening to Saint Peter interview these Gentlemen from the Vatican trying to get into Heaven and i wonder if any got through. A thoroughly researched book by a practising Catholic who opens the curtains to a World of money, power and corruption. A betrayal of my many Catholic friends who practise their Faith with humility and sincerity. Very good read.
Nabilah
Nov 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
Comprehensively researched, this understandably thick book will open to your eyes to the criminal activities of the Vatican. Religions indeed cannot be separated from money and power because the longevity of a religion lies less on the ideology and more on the ability of the religion to manage and grow its resources.
Tamar
Jun 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shameful....

If I was not an atheist before, this book would be the last nail.... It is very detailed and tough to follow but I stuck with it hoping that at some point the church will redeem itself and prove that it has SOME value.... Not the case.... Catholics should be made to read this instead of the bible.....
Ken Schaefer
Mar 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Comparable problems with Vatican finances can be found at the parish and diocesan levels. I quit the church after being an administrator in 2 parishes for a combined 8 years. Bishops, pastors and lay councils would rather hide things than be open and transparent.
Carolyn Elrod
Apr 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Posner is an excellent writer with a (mostly) interesting subject. I got a little bored with what seemed like a lot of inside politics among people whose names I was unfamiliar with. However, most of the book was a good source of information of the Vatican bank from before WW II through 2014.
Victoria
Apr 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
If this troubled history of Vatican financial dealings over the past 150 years were fiction, it would be dismissed as unbelievable, but, alas, it is not. Former Wall Street lawyer Posner has done a remarkable job of in-depth reporting to pull together this story. Although much of the story has come out piecemeal over the years, he’s assembled it in a highly readable, occasionally jaw-dropping narrative.
Posner helpfully puts the Church’s opaque financial dealings in the context of pressures on
...more
Eric
Apr 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
I've been curious for years about the Vatican bank. This was a great way to learn about all you're likely to know unless they someday become totally transparent.

Aside from a little back and forth this is a sweeping chronological history of finances at the Vatican.

For hundreds of years there wasn't actually a bank, just a massive bureaucracy of money handling.

The issue of indulgences is reviewed briefly.

The real meat of this book doesn't begin until the 20th century due to the fact that the
...more
Kelli
Mar 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
I had to read this one in two installments... just couldn't get through it in the time the library gave me, but not for lack of interest. Yes, it is very dense and very detailed about the history of the Vatican bank, and there were a few places where the financial detail was over my head, but as a recovering Catholic and a lover of history, I was completely engaged in the story of how the Vatican believed that it was above man’s law, and interpreted God’s law to whatever means it saw fit. Such ...more
Cameron DeHart
Sep 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: listened
It only took me 11 months to finish this book. Very rich in detail, including in-depth original reporting by the author on complex banking stuff in the 20th century (not quite over my head, but still pretty dense). I learned a lot about Vatican history (Kimia knew most of it already, cuz she's a Classics major), as well some juicy details about the five most recent Popes. Would've given the book 5 stars if it were a tad shorter. The huge cast of Italians was a little hard to keep straight, in ...more
Patricia
Mar 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A full-blown tome which clears away much of the mystique surrounding The Vatican. It took me over two weeks to read, but the knowledge is worth it. Not to say the contents are uplifting, but the cobwebs are gone. What a betrayal. I was overwhelmed by the church's hypocrisy and contempt for decent Catholics. Name the sin, the church has either committed it or abetted it. No wonder it's losing its faithful.
Phil Valentine
Aug 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Posner is a controversial writer, to say the least. The plagiarism scandal at the Daily Beast notwithstanding, he is a thorough and engaging writer. I read this book as research for my next 'Janus' novel and found much of the information indispensable. The amount of digging and research he had to have done to write this book makes me exhausted just thinking about it. A riveting read from start to finish.
Simon
Jan 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Author Gerald Posner tackles the one thing murkier than the Vatican: The Vatican Bank.

In short, he lifts a lid on one an institution shrouded in mystery and intrigue. He spins a real-life action drama than includes a whole host of other entities.

If you like thrillers, you are sure to love this book.

Ben
Jan 26, 2017 rated it liked it
Good history of the Vatican Bank, which I knew nothing about. Chapters on church's involvement and collaboration in WW2 especially interesting. Overall, gets too involved into individual scandals and curia politics, and could have easily been 200 pages shorter.
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Gerald Posner is an award winning journalist, bestselling author and attorney. The Los Angeles Times dubs him "a classic-style investigative journalist." "His work is painstakingly honest journalism" concluded The Washington Post. The New York Times lauded his "exhaustive research techniques" and The Boston Globe talked of Posner's "thorough and hard-edge investigation." "A meticulous and serious ...more
“Eventually 400,000 Germans were sterilized, and the Vatican did not issue a Pastoral Letter against it for another decade, only after the tide of the war had begun to turn against the Nazis).23,I” 3 likes
“Benedict’s resignation was a selfless act since he had come to realize he was not capable of leading the modern church and making the tough decisions that were needed. “It wasn’t one thing, but a whole combination of them,” concluded Paolo Rodari, Il Foglio’s veteran Vatican reporter. Vatileaks, said Rodari, “was a constant drumbeat on the Pope.”33” 2 likes
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