Joe Drape – The Saint Makers

The Saint Makers

The Saint Makers: Inside the Catholic Church and How a War Hero Inspired a Journey of Faith

It was an honor to talk to Joe Drape about the incredible story of a man on his way to sainthood.

Father Emil Kapaun was the most decorated chaplain in military history, the "all man" priest was able to bring out the good that was left in broken bodies and spirits. He died at the age of 35 in a North Korean prisoner of war camp. The record of his bravery in the midst of battle and the way in which he comforted and saved lives during the horrific time in the POW camps is powerful.

Recently I have been doing research on the Korean War -- and so this book really came at the right time. I am bitterly angry about this war. In the end they all lied -- two Presidents, Congress, and the press -- no one spoke the truth. No one explained to the American public that the war was the making of the Chinese who wanted to get military aid from the Russians to build their military into a major threat to the world. It turns out that our soldiers, the young men who were loved, were sent to fight against the Chinese -- not the Koreans. China sent a million men against our war machine --- and we had no plans. President Truman had allowed our military to become a mere shadow of itself. He even wanted to disband the Marines. As a result we were not prepared -- and never understood that the Chinese were sending into battle a million men they wanted to get rid of -- men who had been Nationalists -- who were against Communism. Mao used these men, who essentially were facing bullets from the front and from the back. They attacked American troops in the hopes that Mao would let their families live. They didn't care about Korea. Mao didn't care about Korea. Over 32,000 Americans died for nothing. Among them was Father Emil Kapaun. An amazing human being. His story is fascinating and I hope you will read this book.


What people are saying...

Hope and inspiration seem in short supply as this pandemic persists, but a bit of divine intervention seems to burst from Drape’s new book… Resisting hagiography, he investigates the convoluted process of saint-making and the fascinating characters who gather evidence and led the campaign for Father Kapuan’s sainthood. Drape enriches an inquiry into his own faith with a light personal touch, drawing on his Jesuit youth and reflecting the universal draw of Kapaun’s heroism.”―The National Book Review

"Engaging... this profile in sainthood is humane and compelling."―Kirkus Reviews

“An illuminating exploration of the heroism of Korean War military chaplain Emil Kapaun….[A]moving account of courage and faith in the killing fields of Korea.”―Publishers Weekly

“An absorbing story….Drape… thoughtfully explor[es] his complex relationship with his faith, burnished by his research into Fr. Kapaun…. This insightful account will appeal to readers who enjoy stories about faith and war heroics, and those interested in saint making within the Catholic Church.”―Library Journal

"A fantastic read."―KSCJ’s “Having Read That…”

“Great reporting….[The] book could in part be categorized as a ‘Holy Procedural.’”―The National Book Review

About the Author

Joe Drape is an award-winning sportswriter for the New York Times.

He is the author of six books, including the New York Times bestsellers Our Boy A Perfect Season on the Plains with the Smith Center Redmen and American Pharoah: The Untold Story of the Triple Crown Winner's Legendary Rise. His book Black Maestro was the inaugural winner of the Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award.

A native of Kansas City and graduate of Rockhurst High School, Drape earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Southern Methodist University. He lives in New York City with his wife and son.

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