2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Not all it could have been.,
This review is from: Witness to Hope: The biography of Pope John Paul II 1920 - 2005 (Paperback)
This book is subtitled 'The biography of Pope John Paul II 1920-2005' and carries the legend 'Updated with a new preface'. As such you would expect it to be a full biography of his life from birth to death (and perhaps a little beyond). Wrong! In fact this biography actually only covers the period 1920-2000 and doesn't cover the final five years of the Pope's life, although his final years do get a sentence or two in the preface, which is a heinous thing to do. I would have thought that, given the strength such a man showed in the full vigour of his life and papacy, his final years would have showed not only his humanity in coping with a terrible disease, but also his unshakeable faith in God in the face of death.
Leading on from the 'updated' claim, as I've said the author has added a couple of sentences to bring it 'up to date', but apart from that the main text has been left very much as it is. So it is littered with present tense ('he is', 'he has' etc) instead of past tense ('he was', 'he did' etc), which can be confusing and somewhat annoying, especially when you remember the boast on the front and the price. In fact I found this downright sloppy and felt that the author was too lazy to really go through the text to give it the update it needed.
Turning now to the text itself, the author is (as his thumbnail biography tells us) a Roman Catholic theologian, so perhaps not the best person to write a biography. He appears to have taken the writing of this book as an excuse to provide 'insights' (presumably his own) into the theology of the Catholic Church and the Pope's own writings, musings etc. Whilst some of this can be insightful (I found his analysis of Vatican II to be very helpful) the rest is, at best, turgid and at worse it feels like I'm being preached at. I found it really distracted from the the main topic - Pope John Paul II. I would have much preferred the biography to be just that - a telling of the Pope's life and death with an analysis of his impact on the modern church and the world, along with his relationship to key players both within and without the Vatican. What I didn't want was theological essay after theological essay of what the Pope meant when he wrote his plays, poetry, gave speeches etc and how that relates to God, Jesus and the teachings of the Roman Catholic church, with the odd 'oh yes, and he also was made cardinal'. A particular example of this is Wojty'a's promotion from Archbishop to Bishop. This happened whilst he was attending Vatican II, but we are told nothing of the circumstances of the promotion, just that one moment he was archbishop and the next bishop. And this isn't the only example!
So, in short, I wouldn't recommend this book as I'm sure there are shorter, pithier and more relevant biographies of a man who towered over the world like a colossus, bringing hope to millions and making those who use tyranny to subdue their people quake in their boots. I feel that this book has done little to serve such a man as was Pope John Paul II.