David I. Kertzer's latest book, The Pope and Mussolini: The Secret History of Pius XI and the Rise of Fascism in Europe, will be published this coming spring in the U.S. by Random House and by Rizzoli in Italy. Using an unmatched wealth of newly available archival materials from the Vatican, it tells the dramatic story of the relation of two men who each came to power in Rome in 1922: Italian dictator Benito Mussolini and Pope Pius XI. His book, Amalia's Tale, published by Houghton Mifflin and Rizzoli in 2008, recounts the story of an illiterate Italian woman of the nineteenth century who contracted syphilis from a baby given her to nurse by the local foundling home. Amazingly, her ten year battle against the medical establishment and aristocracy led to a historic victory. A very different battle was at the heart of Kertzer’s previous book, Prisoner of the Vatican – the tale of two popes' efforts to retake Rome from the new Italian state in the late nineteenth century –published by Houghton Mifflin in 2004. Kertzer is the Paul Dupee University Professor of Social Science at Brown University, where he is also professor of anthropology and Italian studies. His Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara (Knopf/Vintage) was a finalist for the National Book Award in 1997, and he has twice received the Marraro Prize from the Society for Italian Historical Studies for the best work on Italian history (1985, 1990). His 2001 book, The Popes Against The Jews (Knopf/Vintage), a look at the Vatican's role in the rise of modern anti-Semitism, has been published in Italian, French, German, Dutch, Spanish, Brazilian, Polish, Hungarian, and British editions. Kertzer is an authority on Italian politics, society, and history; political symbolism; and anthropological demography. He is co-founder and served for many years as co-editor of the Journal of Modern Italian Studies. A play based on The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara, by Pulitzer and Oscar award winning playwright Alfred Uhry, was performed at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis in 2006. Kertzer appeared on screen as the primary expert for episode four of The Secret Files of the Inquisition, which aired on PBS in May 2007.
In 2005 Kertzer was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. From 2006 to 2011, he was the Provost of Brown University where he is currently the Paul Dupee University Professor of Social Science and Professor of Anthropology and Italian Studies.