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Witness to Hope: The biography of Pope John Paul II 1920 - 2005 [Paperback]

George Weigel
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

28 April 2005

A comprehensive and compelling account of the life and work of Pope John Paul II.

When the Holy Father first asked George Weigel to write his biography he said: “You have the interior disposition to do this…you know my mind”. In this the only account of his life to be written with the Pope’s co-operation, a remarkable and unique person is revealed.

Drawing on unique access to Vatican papers and based on extensive interviews with the Pope himself, George Weigel draws together the two main strands of the ministry of the head on the Catholic Church. Others have written about the Pope as a political figure, but none with so much privileged information. The spiritual side, however, has largely been neglected by commentators and observers alike.

This authoritative and complete biography examines the driving forces of the Pope’s Christian faith and his dramatic reform of the papacy for the modern world. It looks at his philosophical position, prophetic outlook, his profound understanding of human freedom and his work for unity. The book explores his challenge to the sexual revolution, his concern for young people and his dialogue with science.

For those of all faiths and none, Witness to Hope will make a powerful impact on every reader.



Product details

  • Paperback: 1040 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (28 April 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 000721409X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007214099
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 15.2 x 5.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 957,154 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

For his monumental authorised biography, Witness to Hope, George Weigel was given unprecedented access to Pope John Paul II and the people who know and work with him. Other biographers have either had a political agenda, or didn't have the theological and cultural expertise to fully analyse this "pope from a far country". Not so with Weigel.

Witness to Hope not only tells the story of the boy who grew up in occupied Poland to become the first non-Italian pope for centuries, but it also explores the Pope's part in the second Vatican Council, his role in the downfall of communism, the rapprochement between Israel and the Vatican, and the downfall of dicatorships around the world. Weigel understands the motors that drive Pope John Paul. He shows how the Pope's intellect is given heart by his love of poetry and drama, and how intellect and creativity merge to create a mystic personality in a world of action. History, theology, spirituality and a profound humanism are all woven together in the Pope's life and in Weigel's analysis. Witness to Hope is scholarly and complete, but the author's journalistic experience means he also knows how to keep the reader's interest with human stories, anecdotes and fascinating detail.

Only three popes have earned the title "The Great". Many Catholics want the present pope to be the fourth. They are more likely to enjoy this biography than his critics, who may find it too admiring. In this reviewer's judgement, Weigel does admire the pope, but he has maintained his objectivity and given us a book which steers clear of both adulation and biased criticism. --Dwight Longenecker --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

“A lucid account of John Paul II’s life is the best we have.” Daily Telegraph

“The first full scale biography that presents the Pope’s life from the inside and the convictions that shaped his life.” Catholic Times


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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars John Paul II: the man of the 20th Century! 25 Nov 2001
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Witness To Hope by George Weigel
This is an incredible book about an incredible man. I cannot pretend to have understood it all! At a time in history when nations around the world are looking for great leaders, men of integrity, there is one, not the leader of a nation but of a church. That man is John Paul II. He must be 'the man of the 20th Century'. There can be very few people, even public ones, whose lives are so well documented. Here is a man of integrity, a man of substance, a man, whose life witnesses to his faith.
First lay aside any prejudice, especially religious, Catholic or otherwise. Many no doubt totally disagree with him and his stance on life and various issues, but surely none can fail to respect him for his wholehearted following where God has led him. The book is, indirectly, a powerful apologetic for Christianity in general, and Catholicism in particular. It is a must read for any serious student of church history of the 20thC, and dare I add, any student of history or sociology or politics; any serious theologian; and no doubt many more, including his fans! For this man has definitely made his mark on world history and on the lives of countless individuals of all ages and cultures, across all strata of society.
It is not the easiest book to read! It is a vast subject: a man, a priest, a bishop, the longest serving Pope of the 20th century. Nor is he just a figurehead, as many might initially believe. Here is a man who is a philosopher, a thinker at the deepest levels but also a man of action. To get an idea of the vast statistics of his life, and a brief resume of much of his papacy, it is worth reading the last chapter first.
This book will repay the effort to read, even skim read. For the more serious, it will definitely repay more serious study. Get reading!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This biography is compulsive reading and paints a fascinating portrait of Pope John Paul II. Not only a religious leader but philosopher, poet, actor, dramatist, statesman and patriot.
The treatment is dynamic and engaging - this is not hagiography but a very human and charming pen picture of a most remarkable leader.
Will be of interest to Catholics and non-Catholics alike - John Paul II is bigger than the Church he represents and symbolizes the meeting of faith, reason and personal courage. As a non-Catholic myself, I was inspired by this account of a most inspiring world figure. A must read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars insightful but not comprehensive 19 Oct 2009
Format:Paperback
This is most of the tale of the route to and papacy of John Paul II. 'Most of' as it was written before he died, and so lacks the end of this remarkable life story. And it does not start at the start, but later on in his life.

Having said that, it is a good academic treatise on a significant life story, perhaps the most significant of the twentieth century. You see the young man who rejected natural marriage and potential fatherhood, for a life of service to friends and community, who rose to unexpected heights, but remained as modest and simple a life as can be imagined. A man who wielded immense power, but who gave away even his clothing and died owning nothing but a simple crucifix.

It is a tale of a very different life from that of our secular world leaders, and most religious ones too. But, for me the real insight is that it is a book of a life of two halves: before and after the papacy. I don't know if it was the writer's intention, but we see first a man of great energy and activity: the Polish priest and bishop who challenged and defeated secular atheist communism. This, the first part of the book, is truly exciting and even riveting. The second half of the book, as the role of Pope becomes his job, becomes turgid and administrative.

It is difficult not to see a contrast between a Polish evangelical priest whose life was self/God-directed and capable of amazing feats. Against this the book shows a life increasingly tied up in the administrivia of Vatican life. You see a man who lives a deeply spiritual life still, but in an atmosphere that is less so than he is.

This is not an anti-Catholic criticism by this protestant critic per se. It is what the book, or its writer, shows evidence of.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An incredible book about an incredible man. 1 April 2002
Format:Paperback
...This is an incredible book about an incredible man. I cannot pretend to have understood it all! At a time in history when nations around the world are looking for great leaders, men of integrity, there is one, not the leader of a nation but of a church. That man is John Paul II. He must be 'the man of the 20th Century'. There can be very few people, even public ones, whose lives are so well documented. Here is a man of integrity, a man of substance, a man, whose life witnesses to his faith.
First lay aside any prejudice, especially religious, Catholic or otherwise. Indirectly, a powerful apologetic for Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular, this is a must read for any serious student: of church history of the 20th C or of history or sociology or politics; any serious theologian; and no doubt many more, including his fans! For this man has definitely made his mark on world history and on the lives of countless individuals.
It is not the easiest book to read! It is a vast subject: a man, a priest, a bishop, the longest serving Pope of the 20th century. To get an idea of the vast statistics of his life, and a brief resume of much of his papacy, it is worth reading the last chapter first.
This book will repay the effort to read, even skim read. For the more serious, it will definitely repay more serious study. Get reading!
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