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A Life with Karol: My Forty-year Friendship with the Man Who Became Pope [Audiobook, CD, Unabridged] [Audio CD]

Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz , Norman Dietz
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

4 Mar 2008

This intimate, affectionate portrait of Pope John Paul II by his longtime secretary and confidant reveals fascinating new details about the opinions, hopes, fears, and dramatic life of this public man.

“I had accompanied him for almost forty years: twelve in Kraków and then twenty-seven in Rome. I was always with him, always at his side. Now, in the moment of death, he’d gone on alone. . . .And now? Who is accompanying him on the other side?”
—From A Life with Karol

Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz worked side by side with Pope John Paul II for almost forty years, enjoying unique access to both the public and private man. In A life with Karol, he provides a close-up glimpse into the Pope’s life and the critical events of his papacy.

Dziwisz was sitting next to the Pope during the assassination attempt in 1981. He recounts the Pope's reaction to 9/11, describing his thoughts and feelings on that day. And the Cardinal’s moving description of the Pope’s haunting memories of World War II uncovers the roots of the pontiff’s intense opposition to George W. Bush’s war on Iraq.
The two men shared moments of fun and spontaneity as well. Dziwisz writes about the times the Pope would slip out of the Vatican, wearing a Panama hat, to stroll the streets of Rome, and he describes the clandestine ski and hiking trips the pair made to escape the Vatican. His firsthand account of the Pope’s last years also reveals that John Paul II considered resigning. These stories and others lend added poignancy to Dziwisz’s extraordinary portrayal of the Pope’s courage and calmness during his final illness.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Tantor Media, Inc; Unabridged edition (4 Mar 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400106192
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400106196
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 16.5 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,790,466 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book as it was an easy read if you know what I mean! The insight that the author has, having been a close friend of the Pope for such a long time really shows in the book and it gives the reader an insight into just how awful things were, not only in Poland under the communists but also how difficult it was for the Pope in some of the trips he made to other countries.
A truly spiritual man who never gave up hope of the world changing, or of the human race embracing humility and real concern for our fellow man.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Insights, But No Betrayal 14 Mar 2010
By James Gallen TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Audio CD
Author Stanislaw Dziwisz served as personal secretary to Pope John Paul II from his days in Cracow until the end of His Holiness' life. Through book the reader is introduced to the man who we knew as Pope John Paul II. For 40 years, Cardinal Dziwisz got to know Karol Wojtyla intimately. "A Life with Karol" enables us to enter into that relationship.

I found this to be a very interesting read. Cardinal Dziwisz gives us insights in into what Pope John Paul did why he did it. We read of how he dealt with the Communist leadership in Poland, both as a bishop and as Pope, and how the Communist leadership viewed and dealt with him. We come to appreciate his close relationship with the Primate of Poland, Cardinal Wyszyñski , his approached the Liberation Theology in Latin America, his Papal support for freedom in Poland and the reasons for his opposition to the Gulf War. While the readers are brought into the Pope's thought process, there are no shocking revelations, no betrayal of confidences by this loyal servant of Karol. This is an orthodox history of which the subject would have likely approved. No follower of John Paul the Great will want to miss this valuable record.
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5.0 out of 5 stars interesting reading 1 Feb 2009
I enjoyed reading this book, After watching the dvd on John Paul 11 this book complimented it very well. I would say however that if you didn't have an insight to this man prior to reading it could be a little hard going.
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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  30 reviews
43 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Totus tuus 28 Mar 2008
By Kerry Walters - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
There's absolutely no doubt in my mind that John Paul II was the greatest man of my lifetime. I say this, by the way, as a non-Roman Catholic. No other world leader touched so many people or exerted such moral influence on the contours of the late 20th century. I didn't always agree with him--I thought his negative views of Latin American liberation theology too harsh, for example--but I never for a moment doubted either his integrity or his deep, deep spirituality. I look forward to the day when he's canonized.

Stanislaw Cardinal Dziwisz's A Life with Karol is a loving portrait of his forty years as John Paul's secretary. Dziwisz was in a perfect position to be John Paul's chronicler: an ever-present but unobstrusive spectator of the daily activities, private spiritual life, and public persona of first Karol Wojtyla, bishop, archbishop, and cardinal, and then John Paul II, Pope.

Dziwisz's memoir sheds interesting light on Wojtyla's embrace of Gandhian tactics of resistance to the Polish communist authorities--a fidelity to nonviolence that led him to speak out strongly against warfare in the closing years of his pontificate; Wojtyla's great reservations about accepting the College of Cardinals' election to the papacy; his deeply-engrained conciliar temperament, a spirit of collaboration and cooperation that endeared him to both clergy and laity alike; his firm resolve to continue the work of Vatican II; his emphasis on the "new evangelization," which sought to reinvigorate a West increasingly indifferent to religion, and the ardent Christian humanism that became its centerpiece; and his efforts toward interfaith dialogue. Along the way, Dziwisz also provides a look at the daily routine of the pontiff, his devotion to prayer and worship, funny accounts of sneaking the pope out of the Vatican so that he could go skiing, and a somber description of John Paul's final illness and suffering.

John Paul's total devotion to God--his personal motto was "totus tuus"--is the key to appreciating both life, theology, and accomplishments. Deeply grounded in scripture, an ardent defender of the Church's best moral and spiritual traditions but a courageous progressive when it came to human rights, labor and capitalism, and war and nonviolence, John Paul ultimately grounded everything he did in his love of God and his conviction that Christ is manifest in human beings. If there's a single overriding impression given in Dziwisz's memoir, it's that his entire life, lived in radical openness to God, was also radically open to his fellow humans.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A life with Karol 3 May 2008
By thank you - Published on Amazon.com
This book is an intimate look at Pope John Paul 11 through the eyes of his close friend Cardinal Dziwisz.
The author was a personal friend of the Pope for about 40 years and he tells little interesting facts about the Pope that only a friend would know. The most interesting and touching part for me was the time the Pope was dying and the things he said and did before he died. Only someone who was at his dying bedside would know and share with us and this is done in this deep and loving book.The Pope's love of God and the church and the people of the world is so evident.
When you finish the book you will have a lot to quietly ponder about this man who we called Pope John Paul 11.
18 of 23 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars KAROL WHO? 12 May 2008
By Thomas Patrick Hull - Published on Amazon.com
This book is one more fine tome praising the life and work of Karol Wojtyla, known to the whole world as John Paul II. It is a pleasant and defensive biography of the pope told by his friend of many years. Also, it stands as a nice promotion piece for his possible beatification or canonization.

But, the book is a huge disappointment in terms of revealing anything really personal about the man who elevated so many as Blessed or Saint for the homage of the universal church. The icon is preserved, but the real man called by the Spirit to be a saint and prophet among us remains hidden.

Did Karol Wojtyla: smoke, enjoy mystery or science fiction writing, watch favorite t.v. programs, have favorite films, explore the myriad halls and hidden doors within the Vatican, ever don a disguise and roam the streets of Rome, love chocolates, doff his cassock in favor of mufti, sing in the shower, have pets, shudder at the thought of a forthcoming visitor, get sick from a meal overseas, continue to swim in the famous papal pool, stop and chat with the Swiss Guards or play cards or table games with household workers, have hobbies, prepare a meal himself, and so forth?

So many years we watched him, admired him, were upliftred by him in good times and times of sorrow and sickness, and read his works. When will we know this man who loved to tease, had a playful side, and became a saint?
That is the book which is awaited. I wish Cardinal Dziwisz had shared more of this kind of thing, the insight of a friend.

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not What You Might Have Hoped For, But a Good Read Anyway 3 July 2008
By J.M. - Published on Amazon.com
If you were hoping this book would give you a very personal look about Karol Wojtyla the man, you will be very disappointed. Stanislaw Dziwisz, Wojtyla's personal secretary for 40 years, discusses only John Paul II the pope.

Furthermore, only slightly more than half of this volume is in Dziwisz's own voice. The other half is written by the "narrator" - Gian Franco Svidercoschi - in "conversation" with Dziwisz. Svidercoschi doesn't bother to introduce himself in the book, but he worked on the 2005 TV movie, "Karol: A Man Who Became Pope," and a book that came out in 2007 entitled "Stories of Karol: The Unknown Life of John Paul II." Svidercoschi is billed as a "well-known Vatican observer" and comes from a Polish family.

I was privileged to meet Cardinal Dziwisz and hear him speak when he did a book-signing June 24, 2008 at the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington, D.C. At that time he confessed he was unhappy with the "overly familiar" and misleading title "A Life with Karol" and had preferred his own title of "Witness," which probably would have been more appropriate. But his editors, Dziwisz said, insisted their title would sell more books.

Disappointments notwithstanding, this book is worth adding to your collection. Dziwisz gives a beautiful, personal accounting of Wojtyla's last hours on earth. And he does a great job of explaining John Paul II's motivations for the unique conduct of his papacy and his responses to the criticisms he received. I found it riveting to the end.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Truth 20 Jun 2008
By T. J. VanEtten - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I loved this book. Cardinal Dziwisz writes a poignant and beautiful
memoir about his life in the service of Pope John Paul II. Many myths are dispelled and we learn the truth about the fall of Russia and the wall in Germany. Behind the scenes truths are revealed for the first time and if you like history this is must read!
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