"His Holiness is at once compelling journalism, drama, history, and biography. John Paul II, elected as the first non-Italian pope in five hundred years, readily used his global pulpit to speak out on behalf of human rights and those who were ignored by other world leaders - whether politically or economically oppressed, whether in the Communist or non-Communist world." "Born in a small Polish town where 20 percent of the population was Jewish, and later bishop of the diocese that contained Auschwitz, John Paul II was painfully aware of the horrors of anti-Semitism, and as pope he forced the Vatican to recognize the state of Israel. With an iron will, Wojtyla (whose rise in the Church was accelerated by his studies and writings on sexual practices) set the Catholic Church on an unmistakable theological course in regard to dogma, the role of women, sexuality, contraception, abortion, and the unmitigated power of the pope himself. In the process, he has both divided and uplifted the world's one billion Catholics, and made the Church again a huge force in the temporal world." "Drawing on hundreds of interviews with the key players in Rome, Washington, Moscow, and Warsaw, Bernstein and Politi tell this amazing story, recreating the remarkable character of a boy who turned to God after losing all of his closest family members, and whose unbelievable destiny was shaped by a youth in the midst of Nazi (and later Communist) Europe. The narrative excitement of Bernstein's reporting skills in conjunction with Politi's insightful knowledge of the Vatican and the former Soviet Union (which he covered for Il Messaggero while the Berlin Wall crumbled) reveal the real story behind the end of the cold war and produce the definitive portrait of the great moral leader - however controversial - of our time."--BOOK JACKET.