Growing up, I’d listened to my father rant that Hitler and Mussolini were the two most misunderstood leaders of all time, and to my grandmother chastise my father for being a freemason, a sin she said would damn him eternally. Descent from the Hill is fiction with autobiographical overtones, the story of a patrician New Englander and his enduring friendship with three college roommates of different social and ethnic backgrounds. By graduation, Justin Windsor’s roommates have joined the story of his life, a journey replete with intrigue, murder, and duplicity.

To write the novel I explored my father’s associations with members of P2, Propaganda Due, the Italian Freemasons. This secret society was not typically Masonic in that it was not anti-Catholic as my grandmother feared. Instead, P-2 pretended to be Masonic so as to distract attention from its plan to re-introduce fascism and Vatican hegemony to Italy.  Along with extensive research, I communicated with Robert Katz, author of The Battle for Rome, a historical account that helped me integrate my story line with the Ardeatine Cave Massacre and the little known history of Italy’s Jewish community, during and after WWII.  Additionally, Katz provided me with information about several members of P-2 who presently reside obscurely in Italy, where Katz also makes his home.

When I learned in 2005 that one of my father’s business associates was one of 5 individuals indicted for the murder of “God’s Banker,” Roberto Calvi, I developed the plot for my first novel.

Then on September 21, 2010, news broke that Italian prosecutors were investigating the Vatican Bank for violations of anti-money-laundering regulations. Read more:,8599,2021194,00.html#ixzz15Z3whuEF

So the question arises: Is history repeating?

There is little doubt that Vatican Bank officials were somehow involved in the demise of the Banco Ambrosiano in 1982, but whether or not they were involved in the death of its president, Roberto Calvi, has not been decided. Several books have been written about a possible link between the Vatican and Italian Freemasons (Propaganda Due) who wanted to re-instate fascism and Vatican hegemony in Italy. Very interesting indeed, but when we read stories like this we tend to forget how many lives are touched by such scandals and how far away the effects of such duplicity can be felt.

The Banco Ambrosiano scandal and Vatican involvement are major elements in Descent from the Hill, a saga (1960-1989) about the post-WWII Baby Boomer generation. During a journey in the lives of members of this generation, the reader sees how the characters’ lives are touched by current events as well as historical events and the prior acts of their parents-acts committed in the name of survival, but acts that will haunt them and their children until all family members confront them.