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Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II
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By George Weigel

This outstanding book is the best and most comprehensive review of John Paul II's life currently available. Just updated after the recent death of its subject, it is hard to imagine another single-volume work written for the general reader that could do better.

George Weigel is a respected academic theologian who is also a wonderfully skilled writer. Without talking down to his audience or over-simplifying complex issues, Weigel nonetheless succeeds in explaining the development of John Paul's religious and philosophical thinking to the general reader. Though long (886 pages), the book is fast-paced and engrossing.

Weigel follows the chronological path of conventional biography but with a deft interlacing of the theological and philosophical threads in John Paul's life and ministry. A crucial element of research for this book was 10 interviews lasting over 20 hours with John Paul himself, who, the author asserts, neither avoided any topics nor ever suggested how a given issue should be treated. Thus, this is not an "authorized biography" in the usual sense, but a genuinely independent work. It is a monumental achievement worthy of a giant figure on the world stage.

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