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4.6 out of 5 stars
12
4.6 out of 5 stars


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on 16 September 2017
Very good book on the biography of Saint John Paul.
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on 20 April 2017
very good
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on 25 November 2001
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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on 20 July 2001
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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on 19 October 2009
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. Whether it was a reality only John Paul II knew, and he is no longer with us.

So, a useful piece of work on the life of an amazing man and a very significant role in a world-leading organisation. Read it, but be prepared to battle through to the end.
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on 1 April 2002
...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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on 24 December 2011
This is an excellent and beautifully written biography of one of the most significant and controversial religious leaders of the twentieth century. I found it impossible to put down. Weigel is particularly good on Karol Wojtyla's life before becoming Pope in 1978, which is in many ways is more fascinating and intriguing than his Papacy. I have no hesitation in recommending this book to anyone who wants to learn more about the remarkable life of Karol Jozef Wojtyla. It should also be read alongside Weigel's latest book, The End and the Beginning, which chronicles the last years of the late Pope's life.
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on 9 March 2012
A great book by a great man and an outstanding Pope. I have read this book with much benefit. Pope John Paul 11 has the ability to deepen one's spiritual insight, explaining aspects of one's life and relationship with God which enrich life in every respect
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on 4 September 2015
An excellent read which shows the Great Pope's life and influence on 1989 very well
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on 16 October 2000
Any Christian who wonders what the Pope is really all about should try this vast book. It is not just a life - it is an account of a remarkable and inspirational person. The Holy Father is living proof that an intellectual can also be a mystic. His wartime experiences, his early life as a priest in Poland under communism, keeping faith alive under enormous pressure - these put many of his later actions, which I don't feel so happy about, such as his backing for Opus Dei, into a better perspective for me.
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