this was a well written, very interesting book that gave me a pretty good overview of the history of post-Jesus Christianity and the Catholic Church. i still see myself looking for a more traditional history book on this topic, though, as the author focussed more on the effects of actions and events on the church more so than the actions and events themselves. the author also assumes a certain level of understanding of the Catholic Church and it's structure, which made some of the passages tough to navigate. one warning- have a dictionary at hand- i've never even seen some of the words he uses!
The Kung history is disappointing to say the least. It seems to start out being fairly objective and accurate but about midway through it becomes a biased diatribe against the very organization that has given him, and similar parasites, sustenance and a forum that they would not have achieved in the real world. He says nothing good about the church for its 1950 year history. He says virtually nothing about Christ or his teachings either. He is absorbed in the politics and personalities of the past and twists everything to suit his personal vendetta.
He tells us in the Introduction that he will write this history "without making use of scholarly ballast(there are no notes and no bibliographic references)." This is a shame, because as a scientist I find such things not only useful, but vital to help ascertain the truth, if the truths really exists. By this statement he clear himself of any accountability. Every page contains points that could be refuted or argued in the opposite way. The Spanish Inquisition comes to mind. He frequently makes use of lists in enumerating the failures and shameful epochs in the church history (not unlike the crack-pot Malachi Martin used to do in his early books such as "The Last Conclave", "Three Popes and the Cardinal" and "The Final Conclave"). The Inquisition figures in most of these lists. The popular image of the Inquisition is one of iron maidens and the rack and burning at the stake. There was some of that, but not as much by a long shot as we are led to believe. See "The Spanish Inquisition" by Kuman for an in-depth scholarly research work into the subject, it has footnotes and bibliographic references. We find out later that Kung himself was a victim of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, the modern vestige of the Inquisition. He was banned from teaching for some unspecified reason. Hence his bitterness.
The Kung history seems to violate the rule that to judge the past we must have lived in the past. He can interpret the past all he wants to, but he should not judge it. The Crusades seemed like the only way to rescue the tomb of Christ from the Infidels at the time. If today it is not politically correct to say anything good about the Crusades, so be, it still does not change the thought patterns of the past which we cannot possibly ever understand.
It is a shame that the Kung history does not present a scholarly format. This is the first, and hopefully the last book by him that most people will read. Some will go away pleased that this disgruntled, sexually deprived old man supports all they believe, some with a more critical bent will scratch their heads and consign the book to the nearest recycling center and at least do the environment some good.