Pope John Paul II: The Biography

Pope John Paul II: The Biography

by Tad Szulc
     
 

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The definitive biography of Pope John Paul II -- by The American Expert on the Pope.


As the spiritual leader of nearly one billion Catholics and the head of the oldest universal organization, Pope John Paul II wields enormous international power and influence. Yet, in the seventeenth year of his papacy, he remains a

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Overview

The definitive biography of Pope John Paul II -- by The American Expert on the Pope.


As the spiritual leader of nearly one billion Catholics and the head of the oldest universal organization, Pope John Paul II wields enormous international power and influence. Yet, in the seventeenth year of his papacy, he remains a mystery -- theologically, politically, and personally.


In this landmark, definitive new biography of the 264th pontiff, Tad Szulc, a former New York Times bureau chief and award-winning author, sheds long-awaited light on the life of Karol Wojtyla. Included are such exclusive highlights as: Wojtyla's life and work under Nazi occupation; the story of how the communists inadvertently helped Wojtyla to become a bishop, opening his way to the papacy; the secret police files revealing their attempt to undermine his cardinalship; and the never-before-revealed account of the Pope's backstage involvement in the downfall of Polish communism.


Drawing on Szulc's unprecedented access to the Pope himself, his friends, colleagues, and collaborators -- and on secret documents from many sources -- Pope John Paul II is a work of monumental religious and political significance.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
New York Times reporter Szulc has traveled extensively with Karol Wojtyla, Pope John Paul II, and was granted an interview with him in 1994. Not an authorized biography, this detached yet sympathetic life story provides an extraordinarily candid portrait of the Polish pontiff and a timely inside look at the Church's internal crisis. While conceding that John Paul II's conservative positions on birth control, abortion, priestly celibacy, the exclusion of women from the priesthood, divorce and homosexuality have alienated vast numbers of the faithful, Szulc observes that he has made the Vatican an active participant and a major player in world affairs. And he commends the pope as a champion of religious freedom, an apostle of social justice (especially in the Third World), a friend to the Jewish people and a cogent critic of capitalist consumerism and greed. . A man of notable kindness, steely stamina and uncompromising consistency in his fundamental views, Wojtyla, born in 1920, is a prolific poet and playwright fluent in six languages. He's a contemplative mystic molded by personal tragedies-his mother died when he was eight, and he lost the rest of his family, his father and brother, before age 22. A penniless rock-quarry worker during the German wartime occupation of Poland, he acted in a Polish underground theater group. Ordained in 1946, Father Wojtyla became an influential professor of ethics and a moral philosopher, pursuing a ``strategy of confrontation and compromise'' with the communist authorities, whose wrath he incurred for his outspoken stance on behalf of the rights of the Church and of his fellow Poles. Brimming with revelations, this biography shows that the Polish communist regime committed a ``fatal error'' by backing his elevation to archbishop in 1963. Szulc also unveils a triangular network of secret diplomacy among John Paul II, Mikhail Gorbachev and Polish dictator Wojciech Jaruzelski during the 1980s, which he credits with expediting the demise of Communist Party rule in Poland. Both admirers and critics of John Paul II will find much new material here in support of their views. 180,000 first printing.(Apr.)
Library Journal
Significant details from a prize-winning New York Times reporter.
Ilene Cooper
With the release of Pope John Paul II's latest encyclical on the value of life, the pontiff once again steps into the spotlight, making this well-researched biography especially timely. Szulc, a former "New York Times" journalist and the author of an acclaimed biography of Castro, "Fidel: A Critical Portrait" (1986), had access to both the pope and his papers, and the favored treatment shows. The book will be particularly newsworthy because it sheds light on John Paul's relationship with Communist regimes, but it also has interesting details on the Vatican intrigue that led to his elevation as pope in the first place and on his efforts to develop closer ties with Israel in particular and with Judaism in general. This is by no means the critical attack the pope's opponents might wish for, but it also is not a hagiographic slice of papal pap. Lots of publicity--including serialization in "Newsweek"equals lots of interest, which translates to high demand in public libraries. [Note: Due to its serialization, this book was not made available to reviewers in galley form.]

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780684804163
Publisher:
Scribner
Publication date:
07/04/1995
Pages:
542
Product dimensions:
6.45(w) x 9.58(h) x 1.51(d)

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