Russell Shorto

White Smoke



The most astute Italian Vaticanista, Sandro Magister, has come out with a prediction and a favorite candidate for the next pope. Actually, Magister has two candidates, and the remarkable thing is both are Americans. Magister’s money is on Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, whom he calls “a larger-than-life man from the Midwest with a radiant smile and overflowing vigor.” His other choice is Sean Patrick O’Malley from Boston. Magister is good at giving a taste of the ruthless behind-the-scenes maneuvering among the cardinals. There are two factions: the old guard of the curia, who want an Italian pope, and one who will follow Ratzinger’s take-no-prisoners conservatism; the other faction includes, essentially, anyone who wants anything else. Dolan, Magister argues, could please both. He’s a conservative, but also as a non-European he would seem to represent change.

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About the Author

  I was born in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. I have three children (Anna, Eva and Anthony) and three step-children (Reinier, Hector and Benjamin).  I write books of narrative history; I believe history is most meaningful to us when it manifests itself through individuals in conflict. My books have been published in fourteen languages and have won numerous awards.  I am senior scholar at the New Netherland Institute and a contributing writer at the New York Times Magazine. My interests include the past, the present and the future, not necessarily in that order.  

photo by Keke Keukelaar