Top critical review
Not worth your money
23 July 2019
Hopefully I remember to clean up this review when I get the chance. I bought this book after multiple people recommended it but unfortunately it was disappointing. Not all the content is bad, I suppose, but the books limited length (~200 pages to cover such broad and complex topics like Fatima, Vatican II, de Lubac's Surnaturel, the liturgical "reform," etc.!) causes Marshall to oversimplify things way too much, though the forced simplification makes it easier for him to fit certain events better into his overarching narrative. The books short length and superficial discussion hints, I think, that the book wasn't really intended by Marshall to provide Catholics with a scholarly and serious way to understand the current crisis, how we got here and what to do. Rather it seems almost like a way to cash out, in self-importance or money or whatever, on the current crisis. Some parts even seem like filler to make the short book a little bit longer..
Another thing I found off-putting is the way Marshall uses innuendo against people he doesn't like. For example, is there really any need to put in the book the rumour spread by a French diplomat that St. Paul VI was a sodomites? Marshall himself doesn't claim that St. Paul VI was an active homosexual, he just notes in passing that the claim was made. Its hard not to assume that this completely unsubstantiated gossip was put in their to make Paul VI look worse. More examples could be found. Lastly, the current Holy Father is portrayed as the culmination of hundreds of years of "infiltration" and recommended to be "recognized and resisted". Such an an attitude really cannot be healthy for the Catholic laymen, in my opinion.
Here is Joseph Shaw, Chairman of the Latin Mass Society (trad bona fides), summing up his thoughts on the book
"In defence of the author, we might say that he is too fair-minded to produce a racy conspiracy theory which would explain all the problems in the Church and tie up all the loose ends. But this not to say that his book has been carefully researched and written: it is characterised by sloppy accounts of historical phenomena, inconsistencies and factual errors.
To give a few examples, in 1859 Pius IX did not order his version of the Prayers After Low Mass to be said throughout the Church: only in the Papal States. If, as is suggested, Annibale Bugnini became a Mason in 1963, it is hardly surprising that Pius XII, who died in 1958, had not heard about it. Benedict XVI has not retained the “Fisherman’s Ring” since his resignation. The quotation dubiously attributed to Pius X, about striking Modernists without asking too many questions, is hardly vindicated by a footnote reference to John Cornwall.
What Catholics need today in order to understand the Church and to work effectively for her good, is a careful clarification of the key theological issues, of her recent history, and of the current ecclesial political scene. They will have to seek these things somewhere other than Marshall’s book."