Archive

BOOKS In My Collection-REVIEWS

*****

 

Tony Birch, the author of Ghost River, is fascinated by stories of society’s fringe dwellers. He grew up in the slums of Fitzroy in Victoria in a one-bedroom terrace house, the son of an Irish Catholic mother and a father whose ancestry includes a strong Aboriginal line that can be traced back to Tasmania. He describes childhood memories of his beloved Yarra river in Melbourne as central to his imaginative thinking and for me this was evident throughout his beautifully written novel Ghost River.  As I turned the pages of the book, I couldn’t help wondering about the two adolescent boys who became soul mates by chance and circumstance, and whether their story is in fact more memoir than fiction. The enduring pathos, grips the reader from the first page to the last, intertwined as it is with the love and respect that grows between the boys and the homeless, alcoholic men who live on the polluted banks of the river, behind the factories of Fitzroy.

The boys,  Ren and Sonny, each with his own separate life dramas and hardships, seem to have an acute understanding of life and the valuable lessons they can learn from each other. They help and comfort the homeless men as much as they are able, despite their youth and maybe because of their own loneliness.

Set in the slums of Collingwood, the boys cherish their escape route to freedom along a secret, tangled trail  to the Yarra in the summers of late 1960s and early 1970s. Birch’s nostalgia for his formative years in the slums and the housing estates of Richmond somehow shines through the bleakness of the environment and the circumstances in which Ren and Sonny live. Theirs is a world in which a disadvantaged boy lives by his wits, constantly on edge while on the run from neighbourhood thugs, a dangerous, crooked policeman, weird next door neighbours, and obligations no young lad should have to fret about.

The friendship between Ren and Sonny sustains them both, with a little help from Ren’s mother, especially when the violence at home becomes intolerable for Sonny.  But the overriding mood throughout the book is one of hope for a better future. The title alludes to the idea that beneath the Yarra lies a ghost river that takes good souls down to its peaceful depths, the ‘resting place’ that the homeless men yearn for at the end of their pitiful lives. However, the men caution the boys that the Yarra rejects the bad souls whose bodies it leaves to float around or wash up on its banks.

As fate would have it, all is eventually threatened by destructive excavations along the river which the boys learn is in preparation for the planned South Eastern Freeway.  The heartbroken boys try desperately to save their homeless friends but time is running out for the men and the Yarra as they know it, and one by one the homeless men succumb to what they believe is inevitable.  The question is, will Ren and Sonny survive the upheaval?

-Anne Frandi-Coory.  17 March 2020

Out Of The Forest

**********

Most people who follow me on Social Media, and those who read my Blog ‘My Life and Rhymes; A Life in Two  Halves’ would find some common ground reading this engrossing biography ‘Out Of The Forest; The true story of a recluse’ written by Gregory P. Smith, about his childhood filled with violence and sexual abuse. And if that wasn’t soul searing enough, his mother one day out of the blue, piled Gregory and his sisters into the family car on the pretext of going on a road trip to visit an aunt they had never heard of. It eventually became apparent to the children that their mother had ‘dumped’ them like so much household garbage, at some sort of institution which resembled a small castle. She then hastily drove off never to be seen or heard of again for some time.

Once inside the orphanage, governed by the Catholic order of ‘Mercy’ nuns, Gregory is immediately separated from his sisters. The siblings do not see each other again while incarcerated in the orphanage, and Gregory soon realizes that the nuns hate all children, but more especially boys. Gregory is regularly sexually abused and humiliated by teenage girls who as ‘inmates’ have to bath the boys. He experiences, and witnesses, the cruel deprivation and humiliation of boys at the orphanage, particularly those boys who wet their beds.

When Gregory and his sisters are collected from the orphanage by their mother and taken home, they find everything is as it was before, only worse. Their father is even more violent after long sessions drinking at the pub…one of Gregory’s sisters later recalls that often after their father had severely beaten Gregory, usually while he was trying to protect his sisters from their father’s wrath, it left blood on the walls and her brother covered in blood. Teenaged Gregory finally ran away from home to live on the streets.

The next few years are spent living on the streets, stealing money and food, and running from the police. At one stage Gregory was incarcerated in a youth correction facility. As he grew older, his eruptions of violent anger involved him in countless drunken brawls. Occasionally he was able to find employment, at times earning a reasonable amount of money, but his demons wouldn’t let him be; his childhood trauma ran too deep.

While living on the streets, he mostly kept hunger at bay by rummaging through rubbish bins for discarded food. Calling himself ‘William H. Power‘ had enabled Gregory to hide from who he really was (albeit superficially),  and where he came from. There was too much of his past shadowing him in and around Tamworth where he was born so he wanted to put as much distance between that town and his battered mind and body as he could. There was also the matter of his juvenile police record; he didn’t want anyone to alert the police as to his whereabouts.

Homeless Gregory morphs into an anonymous, yet familiar vagabond wandering around  towns and byways; thumbing rides, walking for hundreds of  kilometres along lonely country roads, and skirting isolated homesteads. One day, while Gregory was sitting in one of the   parks he frequented, wearing disheveled clothing and sporting a long, scraggly beard; talking philosophy with a group of Indigenous people and ‘hippy backpacker types’ it seemed that he was creating quite the impression.  A few people believed he was Jesus Christ, returned to earth. “Come and listen to this! Come and listen. You should hear what he’s got to say! Hey, man, it’s Jesus! He’s back!” they shouted. He admits he was drinking port and smoking pot at the time:

“I was much more comfortable being plain old William H. Power than I was being Jesus H. Christ… While I was only a god for one night, there were plenty of other times I found myself around a fire on the beach with a group of people letting my inner guru out. The dope would flow and they’d inevitably start to share their thoughts on the deep stuff. Metaphysics is big in Byron Bay. Time and time again I’d be the centre of attention, the group in my thrall with the added drama of being able to see my mountain [up in the rain forest]  from the Byron Bay beach.“

Surely there is not such a great leap from there in the park, preaching to followers, to being a lecturer at a university?

However, Gregory spends most of the following years, in varying states of oblivion, homeless and later in the rain forest, most of the time spaced out on drugs and grog. There is a future episode which brings Gregory’s homeless and aimless life into sharp focus: he discovers, following a long period of socialization, an official record of his marriage to a woman, of whom he has no recollection, much less the actual marriage and later, the divorce.

The peace and solitude of the rainforest in northern New South Wales keeps calling  Gregory back and he subsequently makes himself a  permanent home there for more than a decade, where he survived mostly on bush tucker. He built a bed made from ferns and established a constant campfire.  He had decided earlier on not to kill any more animals for food after he had killed and eaten a small wallaby he caught in a trap. The guilt got to him; he missed the little creature which he often spied wandering around his camp. From that point on his health began to deteriorate rapidly.

The long process of rehabilitation back into human society had its genesis in an epiphany which the hermit experiences while lying beside his campfire, in a near comatose state, suffering from malnutrition and long-term gastroenteritis. His ancestors visit him, and while sitting around the camp fire, they tell him ancestral stories and then finally cajole him into leaving the forest and getting help. Otherwise, they caution him sternly, he will die.

With a mind cloaked in a dense fog, Gregory has no memory as to how he managed to walk out of the forest and find help; he had lost track of time and found it difficult to concentrate on anything at all. His body was emaciated and poisoned by rotten grog, drugs, and lack of food. His ancestors wouldn’t let him rest and hassled him with ghostly conversation.

After a long battle and considerable help from many people along the arduous road to recovery, Gregory finally achieves success as a scholar eventually gaining  a PhD in Social Sciences.  He is later employed as a university lecturer.  Oh how far this remarkable man has travelled.

The author informs the reader that he chose Social Sciences as the subject of his thesis because he wanted to study how human society actually functioned. It had been a mystery to him up to that time.

-Anne Frandi-Coory.  26 February 2020

Winner of THE PEGASUS PRIZE FOR LITERATURE …

 

 

Mario De Carvalho’s book A God Strolling in the Cool of the Evening is well researched which is apparent when he takes the reader back to Rome around the time of Jesus.  The narrator is a Roman provincial official with whom we travel on  his rounds of duties in the township where he lives, in amongst slaves and the rest of the populace.

We learn how Roman officials spent their days and how they treated their women and their slaves.  He describes in detail his living quarters and official buildings and how governing decisions of the time were reached.  The book is  set in the era of Jesus’ preaching and that of his ragtag bands of followers.  Rome was then suspicious of their motives, before the time when Rome would eventually embrace this new religion as the state’s own.  Added to that, many felt threatened and alarmed by the way these ‘new sect’  devotees dressed and behaved.  It just wasn’t the Roman way.  Persecutions and killings of Jesus’  followers was rife but in spite of this, the bands grew in number and they willingly became martyrs for their new beliefs; they felt close to Jesus  spiritually, copied his  acts of compassion for the poor.  His God seemed a more humane one than the various Roman gods.

Rome and her officials were sinking into corruption and the poor suffered greatly at their hands.  For a Roman official to speak out for a pleb or a slave, was not self-serving; demotion or exile from one’s town,  often both,  would be the outcome.

This is a novel which offers a colourful insight into the beginnings of Christianity and the twilight years of the Roman Empire; although the second edition was published in 1999 it is still relevant, and a great read, today.  The Roman Catholic Church grew from these humble and dark beginnings into the massive and wealthy ’empire’ it is today.

The Daily Telegraph described Carvalho as: ‘…a storyteller of genius who has brought the dead past to thrilling life.’ That he has.

-Anne Frandi-Coory.  22 January 2020

********

Bruce Pascoe  is of Bunurong, Tasmanian, and Yuin heritage.

  Award winning Author, Writer and Film Producer.

********

I have lived in Australia for almost fifteen years and I am ashamed to say it is only in the last two or three years I have learned that although Australian Aboriginals were sometimes hunter-gatherers, they also lived in towns of up to a thousand people, they built houses, and they  were sedentary enough to have systems of agriculture and trading, to set large-scale fishing traps, and engaged in crop-saving irrigation practices. Archaeologists are now discovering artefacts, artworks and other evidence of Aboriginal life which attest to the fact that they were not solely hunter-gatherers. Author of Dark Emu,  Bruce Pascoe, through extensive research, has revealed the huge amount of information about the sedentary life of Aboriginals verified by early explorers and settlers in their diaries, in both the written word and sketches.

Dark Emu reveals how colonizers eventually destroyed the very settled Aboriginal way of life; their agriculture, their plants, their houses, their land; these supposedly ‘civilized’ invaders massacred First Australians in their thousands whenever they tried to defend their culture, their women, or their land. To justify this destruction of a culture that had survived in Australia for up to 80,000 years, successive writers and governments have set out to create the myth that Australian aboriginals were “savages” or “blacks” who aimlessly roamed the continent as hunter-gatherers.  Aboriginal children were taken from their families by Christian missionaries and placed in orphanages to “save them” from a “savage” and “heathen” upbringing.

Pascoe has much to say about the deliberate ‘cover-up’ of a pre-colonial Aboriginal democracy which had allowed ‘the great Australian peace’ across the continent for thousands of years. Tribes worked with each other sharing the land and whatever was harvested from it; flora and fauna alike. They stored and preserved food, they ground a type of flour and they baked a basic damper bread. David Maybury-Lewis, was professor of anthropology at Harvard University in the early 1990s when he included these statements about Australian Aboriginals in his book ‘MILLENIUM; Tribal Wisdom and the Modern World’:

*If one were asked to state briefly and succinctly what are the outstanding positive features of Aboriginal civilization, I for one, would have no hesitation in answering:

*Respect for the individual, irrespective of age or sex.

*The amazing degree of social and political integration achieved by them.

*The existence there of a concept of personal security which transcends all governmental forms and all tribal group interests and conflicts.

*The possibility of conceiving of an individual alone in a tribal sense is ridiculous…the very complexity of tribal life and the interdependence of people on one another makes this conception improbable at best, a terrifying loss of identity at worst.

So much of what Pascoe writes about in Dark Emu is in harmony with the above academic statements; but further, he gives us an in depth analysis drawn from his own ancestral knowledge of pre-European Aboriginal life, and backs this up with compelling evidence gained from his research around the early explorers’ and settlers’ diary notes, stories and sketches held in libraries and museums around Australia. He also discusses how Australian Aboriginals managed the threat of bushfires and how they used the best land for agriculture and the poorer, less productive soils for growing trees, planted in specific formations. They had a spiritual and emotional connection to the land; a great understanding of fire and how to control it. Tribes harvested a variety of yam and many other ‘bush tucker’ plants across their land, but later all were destroyed by herds of cattle and sheep brought in by the early settlers.

In Dark Emu, Pascoe brings home to us that we can no longer assume our 21st century ‘developed’ way of life represents the most advanced stage of progress and that Aboriginal society was less successful, less meaningful than our ‘superior’ society today. Surely this knowledge will enlighten us, open up the richness and variety of what it means to be human and perhaps we can learn from the peace and harmony evident in pre-colonial Aboriginal tribal life.

To me, their spiritual beliefs such as ‘Dreamtime’ make far more sense than the religion of Christianity ever did; Aboriginal spiritual beliefs are intertwined with the land, and I wonder if we had followed their path in this regard instead of trampling all over it with introduced cattle and sheep, or by planting out pastures never suited to such a dry continent, would Australia be burning as it is right now, in catastrophic bushfires?

If you haven’t already read  Dark Emu please do so, and encourage your children and grandchildren to read it, or read it to them, like I have done.

 

– Anne Frandi-Coory.  9 January, 2020

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

********

Lewis Carroll, born Charles Dodgson, was the son of a cleric and it appears that he had a rather boring and ‘funless’ childhood. He was deeply religious, eventually becoming a deacon in his church.  Paradoxically, this austere, possibly very lonely man, went on to write two of the most famous and popular children’s stories of all time: Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland and its sequel, Through The Looking-Glass. During and following his lifetime there were myriad plagiarized versions of his stories, many using the name ‘Alice’ and the word ‘Wonderland’ in their titles; 19th century England did not have copyright laws so plagiarism was rife. Before the Alice series, children’s stories were largely moralistic in tone or derived from biblical narratives.

Carroll’s drawings and sketches were childlike and did not meet his exacting standards, so he employed professionals to do the artwork for his published stories… and then later the first camera was invented. Carroll was inspired to add his own photographs, mainly of little girls, to his prolific writings, and it must be said, for his own enjoyment and collections.

To be a Victorian photographer, wrote Robert Douglas-Fairhurst, the author of The Story Of Alice – Lewis Carroll and the Secret History of Wonderland, required “the knowledge of a chemist, the eye of an artist, and the patience of a saint”. The new craft suited the meticulous Dodgson, and the art of photography further inspired his alter ego, Lewis Carroll the story teller. He could prolong his fascination with childhood by photographing little girls, ideally in the nude. “A girl of about 12,” he wrote towards the end of his life, “is my ideal beauty of form.” And he could never understand … “why the lovely forms of girls should ever be covered up”. It is true that Carroll preferred images of prepubescent girls to those on the cusp of womanhood.  It disturbed him greatly to witness the physical changes in his Alice …that is Alice Liddell, who inspired him to write about Alice’s Adventures.

Christ Church at Oxford was the epitome of an academic and social establishment, where the eccentric Dodgson fitted in perfectly. He never really left once he had moved in. In his reality, Charles Dodgson and Lewis Carroll were two separate people so he certainly did not appreciate his fans addressing letters to ‘Lewis Carroll’ at Charles Dodgson’s rooms at Oxford. He preferred to keep his two selves quite separate. In the opening pages of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, it is made very clear that Alice “was very fond of pretending to be two people”.

Pretty eight-year-old Alice Liddell, especially, captivated the young Charles. Her father was Dean of Christ Church and Dodgson often took Alice and her sisters boating on the river, while telling them enchanting stories he’d made up. Alice had dark, elfin features, and the kind of fashionable clothes that made her look, says Douglas-Fairhurst, “rather like a well-dressed doll”.

Author Robert Douglas-Fairhurst is also an Oxford don, which allowed  him a good perspective from which to explore the story of Alice and her brilliant creator, while Oxford itself is a kind of Wonderland  where figures like Humpty Dumpty might be found sitting on any of the high walls, instructing students that “a word means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less”.

While waiting for the proofs of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Dodgson noted with distaste that “Alice seems changed a good deal, and hardly for the better”. She was then 13. Already, from 1858 to 1862, Dodgson’s peculiar intimacy with Miss Liddell had become the subject of intense Oxford gossip.

The charm of photography [for Dodgson] Douglas-Fairhurst suggests, is that it prevented children from changing; what photographs offered was “a new way of grappling with the power of time”. Adults, Dodgson noted, “look before and after, and sigh for what is not”, whereas a child can say “I am happy now” and that moment in time can be caught with a click. In this sense, writes Douglas-Fairhurst, photographs are like dreams; the dreamer sees the world once again through the eyes of a child. This dream-like effect is captured perfectly in the Alice books.

Just as Alice grows an incredibly long neck and then shrinks to the size of a mouse, language also alters and expands. The Oxford English Dictionary contains almost 200 examples of words and phrases from the Alice books, including ‘beamish’, ‘chortle’, ‘frabjous’, ‘galumphing’, ‘curiouser and curiouser’, and the now ubiquitous ‘We’re all mad here’.

Dodgson/Carroll forever changed stories written especially for children…from tedious moral lessons and formidable biblical characters, to nonsensical humans and animals inhabiting dreamlands full of mysteries and dramas. He was a brilliant master of the English language which, combined with his vivid imagination, made him the ultimate children’s story teller.

Douglas-Fairhurst is the latest recruit to an army of Alice analysts baffled to distraction by the quest for answers to the Alice conundrum. But Carroll’s apparently inconsequential wordplays which he loved sharing with his child friends, are replete with consequences. As the Queen of Hearts says: “Every joke should have a meaning.” Along with the Bible and Shakespeare, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass are among the most quoted works of English literature. “Nonsense” is a peculiarly English genre, and Virginia Woolf is said to have commented: ”…these are not books for children. They are the only books in which we become children”.

Was Charles Dodgson aka Lewis Carroll a ‘paedophile’ or a creative genius? Was it possible he could have been both? It is interesting to note that this particular word first appeared in public around this time.  Dodgson always insisted, following the success of his Alice in Wonderland tales,  that he was two different people, and maybe this allowed  him a Jekyll and Hyde existence; his wholesome alter ego Lewis Carroll wrote children’s stories, and played games with friends’ children, while the ‘real’ Charles Dodgson, the loner, the man who seemingly never wanted to become an adult,  harboured  private black thoughts.

However, the author of The Story Of Alice is having none of it! He argues that Charles Dodgson was not a paedophile and there is no evidence that he ever acted improperly with Alice the child, or any other children. Indeed, Alice Liddell never accused Dodgson of abusing her in any way and in fact she became a fund raiser after he died, helping to collate and organise his papers and works and install them in a museum. She also appeared at celebrations of Carroll’s life and his extensive works. In the end though, it is apparent that Alice Liddell was “tired” of the never-ending media hype surrounding her as being the ‘real’ Alice of Wonderland fame. However, there are the missing pages from Dodgson’s private diary which were removed after his death, probably by his family, so there will always be questions and suspicions swirling around Charles Dodgson’s close friendships with several young girls.

Robert Douglas-Fairhurst loves Carroll’s books and they motivated him to study Charles Dodgson with an open mind, despite the suspicion with which others may view Dodgson, particularly since the early 20th century. The Story of Alice is a comprehensive study into the enigma of Dodgson’s complicated life within a Victorian ‘wonderland’ encompassing the Victorian era’s methods of austere child rearing, alongside Christian belief systems; the fantastical dreamlands that Lewis Carroll’s Alice stories allowed bored and lonely children to escape into…a realm of make-believe and wide-eyed wonder.  Still, concludes Douglas-Fairhurst, the quest for answers “cannot be satisfied by anything we know” and he reaches “the probable conclusion” that Dodgson’s  “strongest feelings were sentimental rather than sexual”.

To me personally, this book is an in depth analysis of 19th Century English literature and how children’s stories and ‘fairytales’ developed over time as a specific genre which encouraged children to read and collect their favourite books.  Alice’s dream adventures instilled in children worldwide, the passion for reading; that thrill of opening a book full of weird and exciting characters who occupied a fantastical world of dream images. They also later inspired two Disney brothers to ‘dream up’ one of the most famous childhood cartoon characters, Micky  Mouse.  The catalyst was one eccentric, very intelligent loner, with a split personality, who preferred the company of little girls to that of adult women.

-Anne Frandi-Coory 11 November 2019

 

***************
‘FALLEN’ written by investigative journalist Lucie Morris-Marr, follows the courtroom dramas of cardinal George Pell’s two closed court trials. The first trial was abandoned when the jury  could not reach a unanimous decision. Morris-Marr attended every court sitting over both trials. However,  only lawyers and barristers appearing for the Crown and for the Defence, along with the two juries, were permitted to hear the testimony of the surviving choir boy (‘Witness J’) in a closed court . He accused Pell of historical child sexual abuse offences committed when he and his friend were 13 years old.  The other choir boy involved in the sexual abuse offences at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne, died in 2014 of a heroin overdose.
Pell’s second  five-week trial ended in December 2018, when a jury found Pell guilty of sexual penetration of a child under 16, as well as four counts of committing an indecent act with, or in the presence of, a child. The verdict relates to two different incidents that took place when Pell was the archbishop of Melbourne.  Evidence was presented that Pell abused the two choirboys at St Patrick’s Cathedral after celebrating one of his first Sunday masses as archbishop. He abused Witness J a second time, two months later.  Parts of Witness J’s  testimony were read out by the prosecutor and Pell’s defence barrister during their closing arguments to the jury.
In Witness J’s  statement read by his lawyer outside the court following  the guilty verdict,  he dedicated the guilty verdict to his deceased friend and asked journalists to respect his privacy and that of his family including his young children, by not revealing his identity.
The harrowing accounts Morris-Marr writes about in her book relating to her investigation of George Pell over many months leading up to his secret trials, the loss of the job she loved at a Murdoch Media newsroom, and the physical strain on her mind and body, bear witness to the power that Pell and his supporters, both within and outside  the Catholic Church, wielded in Australia and around the world. The fact that the compelling testimony of  Witness J  swayed the jury to convict  such a powerful man must cement our faith in Australia’s  judicial system.

George Pell had the best Defence team money could buy and the onus was on the prosecution to prove Pell’s guilt, so the stakes were extremely high. When the unanimous guilty verdict was read out by the jury foreman, there was an audible collective gasp around the courtroom. It was evident that none was more shocked by the guilty verdict than Pell’s highly paid and over confident QC Robert Richter.  A subsequent Appeal by George Pell in the Victoria Court of Appeal  failed by two to one.

This book is a valuable record of the weeks and months leading up to the closed court trials and subsequent conviction at the second trial, of Australia’s highest ranking Catholic cleric and the third highest ranked Vatican official at the time of his arrest.

**********

Reviewer’s Note: I am surprised that the editor of the book  ‘FALLEN’   written by author/journalist Lucie Morris-Marr and published by Allen and Unwin,  did not pick up a significant error in the book before its publication. Another important book written by Chrissie Foster about her dealings with a callous George Pell when her two daughters had been repeatedly raped by a Catholic priest, is erroneously referred to in ‘FALLEN’ as  ‘Hell On The Way To Hell’  when in fact the correct book title is: 
Ms Foster also wrote the forward in Lucie Morris-Marr’s book.  Not a good look for either the author or the publisher of ‘FALLEN’. Hopefully this error can be corrected asap.
********
-Anne Frandi-Coory  3 November 2019

I first read In God’s Name in the early 1990s when I was at university, and although I was by then a lapsed, disillusioned Catholic, nothing prepared me for the revelations in the book. Until then I had no idea how deeply corrupt the Vatican/Catholic Church was, and specifically, the Vatican Bank. I have recently read it again.

Then I saw a Daily Mail post:

Mobster claims he helped Poison Pope John Paul I with cyanide and threatened to kill Pope John Paul II because they both tried to expose a billion dollar stock fraud scam involving cardinals and gangsters in Vatican City. (see full post below).

Needless to say, this time I was more prepared, what with the child sexual abuse scandal that has since rocked the Church to its core. The comments by the mobster confirm everything that investigative journalist David Yallop had revealed in  his book about the murder of a  pope… In summary:

During the late evening of September 28th or the early morning of September 29th,1978, Pope John Paul I, Albino Luciani, known as the smiling pope, died only thirty-three days after his election. The cause of death (Vatican officials refused to allow an autopsy) was announced to the world by the Vatican as ” myocardial infarction”. Yallop interviewed many people when he was writing In God’s Name including the pope’s  long  time personal physician. The doctor was absolutely shocked because as he told Yallop, his patient, a relatively young pope in his 60s,  was in perfect health and the only pills he took, were extra vitamins and  mild medication for low blood pressure.

During his research for the book, Yallop uncovered a huge chain of corruption  linking leading figures in financial, political, criminal, and clerical circles around the world in a conspiracy. The new pope was, although a humble man who enjoyed a simple lifestyle, a fierce opponent of corruption with an inner strength that must have alarmed his ‘minders’ when he ordered an investigation into the Vatican Bank, and the  methods employed by its President, Archbishop Paul Marcinkus. Yallop’s intensive research over three years maps the subsequent cover-ups and  upheavals within the Vatican,  and the actions of the mysterious and illegal branch of Freemasonry called P2  extending far beyond Italy in its accumulation of wealth and power , and also penetrating the Vatican.

In God’s Name is an informative and educational  read for Catholics and non-Catholics alike; for anyone who still believes that religious organisations are  in existence purely to set humanity’s moral compass or to direct the worship of culturally specific gods.  -Anne Frandi-Coory 

****************

The Daily Mail Post:
Mobster claims he helped Poison Pope John Paul I with cyanide and threatened to kill Pope John Paul II because they both tried to expose a billion dollar stock fraud scam involving cardinals and gangsters in Vatican City.

A mobster from the Colombo mafia family claims he helped poison Pope John Paul I with cyanide 33 days into his reign to stop the pontiff from exposing a billion dollar stock fraud scam. The startling revelation comes from 69-year-old Anthony Raimondi’s new novel When the Bullet Hits the Bone.

Raimondi was a loyal member of the Colombo family – one of the notorious five Italian mafia families in New York City.

The Colombo family dealt in a host of criminal enterprises, including racketeering, contract killing, arms trafficking and loansharking.

The scene begins in 1978 when Raimondi, the nephew of infamous godfather Charles ‘Lucky’ Luciano, was recruited by his cousin Paul Marcinkus, who ran the Vatican bank in Vatican City.

The New York Post reports that Raimondi’s job was to learn the Pope’s daily habits and be there when Marcinkus spiked John Paul’s nightly cup of tea with Valium.

Raimondi notes that the Valium worked so well that the Pope wouldn’t have woken up ‘even if there had been an earthquake.’

He said: ‘I stood in the hallway outside the Pope’s quarters when the tea was served.’

‘I’d done a lot of things in my time, but I didn’t want to be there in the room when they killed the Pope. I knew that would buy me a one-way ticket to hell.’

Meanwhile, Marcinkus prepared a dose of cyanide for the Pope.

‘He measured it in the dropper, put the dropper in the Pope’s mouth and squeezed. When it was done, he closed the door behind him and walked away,’ Raimondi said.

Shortly after, a papal assistant reportedly checked on the Pope and screamed that ‘the Pope was dying!’

At which point, Marcinkus and two other cardinals rushed into the bedroom and pretended to be horrified by what they saw.

Raimondi said if the Pope had kept his mouth shut, ‘he could have had a nice long reign.’

Next on the list was John Paul II, who seemed set on exposing the inside job as well.

Raimondi, a [self] made man, was called back to the Vatican and told to prepare for a second murder at the behest of the fraudsters.

He reportedly told them: ‘No way. What are you going to do? Just keep killing popes?’

Knowing he risked being killed by the mobsters, John Paul II allegedly chose to keep quiet about the illegal dealings.

John Paul II would go on to serve the second longest reign in modern history before he died at age 84 in 2005.

This apparently prompted days of drunken partying for the mobsters and corrupt cardinals in Vatican City.

Raimondi said: ‘We stayed and partied for a week with cardinals wearing civilian clothes, and lots of girls.’

‘If I had to live the rest of my life in Vatican City, it would have been OK with me. It was some setup. My cousins all drove Cadillacs. I am in the wrong business, I thought. I should have become a cardinal.’

Raimondi dismisses those who question his story or say it closely resembles ‘The Godfather III.’

‘It was a terrible movie. To tell you the truth I don’t really remember it,’ Raimondi told The Post.

‘What I said in the book I stand by till the day I die. If they take [the pope’s body] and do any type of testing, they will still find traces of the poison in his system.’

********

%d bloggers like this: