Man of the Century

Jonathan Kwitny, Author
Jonathan Kwitny, Author Henry Holt & Company $30 (768p) ISBN 978-0-8050-2688-7
Reviewed on: 09/01/1997
Release date: 09/01/1997
Paperback - 800 pages - 978-0-8050-7673-8
Hardcover - 765 pages - 978-0-7515-2359-1
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Pope John Paul II has proven to be one of the most influential religious leaders of the 20th century. The pope's charisma and willingness to use the modern tools of communication to spread his and the church's word have made him perhaps the most recognizable man in the world. His fierce opposition to communism made him a hero among the Catholics of Eastern Europe even while it brought him into conflict with the Catholic liberation theologians of Latin America. His conservatism on such matters as abortion and birth control has also been met with resistance by many Catholics, including some in the U.S. and Europe who applauded his battle with communism. In this monumental biography, Kwitny, a former reporter for the Wall Street Journal, relies on interviews and firsthand accounts of the pope's life and work to portray a man of great complexity whose leadership, Kwitny believes, will carry the church into the 21st century. In exhaustive detail, Kwitny follows the pope's life, from when he was Karol Wojtyla, a young man caught between his love for theater and his call to the priesthood, through his support as bishop of Krakow for Poland's Solidarity movement and his election and subsequent work as Pope John Paul II. As Pope John Paul II, Wojtyla has, according to Kwitny, been even more instrumental than Pope John XXIII in promoting pacifism and respect for other religions. According to Kwitny, Pope John Paul II is the man of the century because of the way that he has used the great events of the century to articulate his and his church's religious outlook. Kwitny's lively journalistic style make this book, in spite of its great detail, an accessible story of one of the century's most important religious leaders. (Sept.)
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