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Biography – Professor David I. Kertzer

Professor David I. Kertzer

Paul Dupee University Professor of Social Science at Brown University

David I. Kertzer, Paul Dupee University Professor of Social Science at Brown University, is currently Research Professor at Brown where from 2006 to 2011 he served as Provost.  His book, The Pope and Mussolini, was awarded the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Biography and has been published in eleven languages.  Among his many other books, The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara was a finalist for the 1997 National Book Award for Nonfiction and has been published in eighteen foreign editions.

An authority on Italian politics, society, and history; political symbolism; and anthropological demography, Kertzer is a Past-President of both the Social Science History Association and the Society for the Anthropology of Europe. He is co-founder and served for many years as co-editor of the Journal of Modern Italian Studies. In 2005 Kertzer was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

His 2022 book published by Random House, The Pope at War, based on research in Vatican, Italian, German, French, British, and American archives, tells the story of Pius XII’s relations with Mussolini and Hitler during the Second World War.  Editions have appeared in the U.S., Italy, Germany, and Britain, and are in press in Russia, China, and Spain.

His previous book, The Pope Who Would be King (Random House, 2018), termed “richly rewarding” by the Christian Science Monitor and “a rock-solid history, with enough intrigue and double-dealing to compete with any Robert Harris thriller” by the Seattle Times, tells the dramatic story of the Roman revolution of 1848, when the pope was driven into exile and the end of the papal theocracy was proclaimed.

Kertzer’s The Pope and Mussolini: The Secret History of Pius XI and the Rise of Fascism in Europe (Random House, 2014) won the Pulitzer Prize for Biography in 2015. It also won the American Historical Association prize for best book in Italian history.  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’s The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara (Knopf/Vintage) was a finalist for the National Book Award in 1997 and has been published in eighteen foreign editions.  A play based on The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara, by playwright Alfred Uhry, was performed at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis in 2006. In April 2016, Steven Spielberg announced that he would be making a film based on Kertzer’s book, with a screenplay by Tony Kushner.

Among his earlier books, two received the Marraro Prize from the Society for Italian Historical Studies for the best book of the year on Italian history (1985, 1990).