A rollicking, fast paced, less-than-reverent but scrupulously researched romp through two millenniums of popes. The cast is vast: 265 men (a very entertaining chapter explores the dubious possibility of a ninth century female Pope Joan) not to mention various antipopes. A few popes bring marvelous diplomatic and ecclesiastical skills to the task. Leo I keeps the Huns at bay and saves Rome from destruction. Scholarly Benedict XIV delicately keeps the 18th century peace and reforms the Holy See.