Confronting WWII History In 'Warburg In Rome'

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Toward the end of World War II in Europe, the Nazis were in retreat, and the curtain was pulled back, revealing the horror of their "final solution." The curtain was also pulled back on the complicity of the Vatican. While the church did work quietly to rescue Jews, critics say it did too little to oppose the round-up of millions of them, and then colluded with the Germans, allowing many Nazis to escape capture by the Allies.

This is the historical background of a new novel by James Carroll, "Warburg in Rome." It tells the story of David Warburg, a young Jewish American government official sent to Rome, just after the Allied liberation. He's there to deal with the start of the greatest refugee crisis in history, as waves of Nazi victims come out of hiding and out of the concentration camps. He's also there to try to save Jews from the retreating Nazis.

It's a gripping political thriller set in a world of troubling moral complexity. As author James Carroll writes, "What happened in Rome at the end of World War II represents a climactic moral defeat."


James Carroll, distinguished scholar-in-residence at Suffolk University and a columnist for The Boston Globe.


NPR: 'Warburg' Struggles For Love And Justice In Wartime Rome

  • "James Carroll, who served as a Catholic priest before his literary ambitions led him to go secular, has gathered together his knowledge of church history and his mature powers as a novelist to create Warburg in Rome, his most splendid work of fiction to date."

The Boston Globe: ‘Warburg In Rome’ By James Carroll

  • "James Carroll’s “Warburg in Rome’’ has many of the ingredients of a great spy thriller: a high-stakes battle between good and evil; a plot full of twists and turns; a cultural capital both seductive and corrupt; characters caught in ethical thickets; and a moment of existential crisis when all the world’s troubles seem to converge on a single point on the map, bringing out the best and the worst in all who happen to find themselves at the fractured center of civilization."

This article was originally published on July 09, 2014.

This segment aired on July 9, 2014.


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