Witness to Hope
The Biography of Pope John Paul II
HarperCollins, $35, 992 pp.
No one can write an entirely successful biography of a living pope. Not only does the biographer lack access to fundamental sources such as diaries and private letters, but he is denied the perspective which only time—and death—can bring to any life. If he is a Catholic and sympathetic to his subject, he is further constrained by the glamour of the papal office. A living pope is always the greatest and best of men; but after death, as we used to be told in catechism...
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Eamon Duffy is Reader in Church History in the University of Cambridge and Fellow of Magdalene College. He is the author of The Stripping of the Altars and Saints and Sinners, a history of the popes, both published by Yale University Press.