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Benedict XVI: An Intimate Portrait Hardcover – October 30, 2008


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Benedict XVI: An Intimate Portrait + Salt of the Earth: The Church at the End of the Millennium-  An Interview With Peter Seewald + God and the World: A Conversation With Peter Seewald
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 260 pages
  • Publisher: Ignatius Press; 1st Ed. edition (October 30, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1586171909
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586171902
  • Product Dimensions: 1.1 x 6.2 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,285,834 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Seewald is an excellent writer and I found the book delightful.
Philip D. Halfacre
Seewald is one of the good guys and he invites you into his worldview by revealing how Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI changed his life.
James F. Day
Throughout, Benedict's great intellect and humility shine forth as perhaps his defining qualities.
Robert D. Bellamy

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Robert D. Bellamy on December 17, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Three and a half years into Pope Benedict XVI's reign as the Vicar of Christ, this is exactly the type of biography that should be coming out. After the flurry of hastily prepared books (some quality, some not), Seewald gives us a thoughtful, in-depth portrait of the pontiff.

Seewald, of course, was the impetus behind Salt of the Earth and God of the World, two important books written in conjunction with the then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. This book offers a glimpse into the process of Seewald's introduction into the world of Ratzinger and his subsequent reconversion back into the Church. Seewald tells of his commission in 1993 to write an article on the oft-mistunderstood "Panzerkardinal" and in what I think is the most interesting part of this book, recounts some of the interviews he conducted in preparation for that story. Interviewees include those supportive of the Cardinal (including his own brother, Georg) and those who resent the Cardinal (like Hans Küng). In his interviews, Seewald says that he came away with a dual view of the Cardinal.

Eventually, Seewald gets to interview Cardinal Ratzinger himself for the two books, and he recounts the travails involved in this process. In addition, Seewald credits Ratzinger for his move from an atheist-Communist-apostate to reentry into full communion with the Church. In this sense, it is as much Seewald's story as it is Ratzinger/Pope Benedict's, but God as he works through Pope Benedict exists at the center of the work.

While not as detailed as Brennan Pursell's Benedict of Bavaria with regard to Ratzinger's childhood experiences, I found these sections to be sufficient and appropriate given the goals of the book.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Philip D. Halfacre on July 5, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Peter Seewald's "Benedict XVI: An Intimate Portrait" is highly recommended for anyone who is looking for glimpses into the life and thought of the Holy Father. In the book, Seewald describes the details surrounding his book-length interview with Cardinal Ratzinger that eventually became "Salt of the Earth." The two books naturally overlap a bit, but not in a way that should prevent interested readers from delving into both. "Salt of the Earth" is more matter-of-fact; Seewald asks questions for which Ratzinger provides detailed answers ex tempore. "Benedict XVI: An Intimate Portrait" is, as its name suggests, a bit of a lighter read. Seewald is an excellent writer and I found the book delightful.

Fr. Philip Halfacre is a priest of the Diocese of Peoria and the author of "Genuine Friendship: The Foundation for All Personal Relationships, including Marriage and the Relationship with God."
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Marie C. Pruden on September 7, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Well, now I'm finished reading "Benedict XVI: An Intimate Portrait," and I'm exhausted but very, very satisfied!

"Intimate Portrait" is not just about the Pope but also about the author's journey back into the Church. The book chronicles the author's extensive research not only on Benedict's personal background but also a crash course on catholicism and Ratzinger's theology, if he were to interview the then Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith and not appear stupid. And what a ride! The author even had a sample taste of personal sacrifices and a bit of the dark night of the soul! Bottom line: Coming home to the Church.

The fact that both the author and his subject are German reflects a kind of intimacy from the very start. Seewald had the temerity to throw some unimaginable (for a journalist) hard-ball questions and Ratzinger answered them with calmness, clarity, humor, kindness and love.

Everything I liked about our Pope is there - his "dictatorship of relativism" homily just before the start of the conclave, his election to the Chair of Peter, his World Youth Day boatride on the Rhine while thousands of young people waded in the water, his controversial Regensburg lecture, his visit to Turkey that earned him the title, "Benedict the Brave," and much, much more. Seewald personalized them and I shared all that he saw and felt.

However, "Intimate Portrait" is not in an interview Q and A format, but rather an indepth, balance (critics and supporters given equal opportunity to weigh in), and ultimately sympathetic narrative. The story of how "Salt of the Earth" and "God and the World" came about, along with a slice of Benedictine monastery life make "Benedict XVI: An Intimate Portrait" doubly enjoyable to read.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Well written, well thought, easy to read and follow book full of stories and inspiring text for both Catholics and non Catholics alike.
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By James F. Day on April 30, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Destiny put Seewald & Ratzinger together; this is not your average run of the mill biography you find on popular collection shelves. Seewald is one of the good guys and he invites you into his worldview by revealing how Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI changed his life. Seewald himself is not the main focus, it's Ratzinger every step of the way, but as his narrative thread Seewald uses how he came to respect and admire Ratzinger the man, so much so that Seewald himself renewed himself back into the Church soon after his first collaboration with Ratzinger, Salt of the Earth. "So I did it silently -- and secretly rejoiced."

Split into three parts, Seewald uses his journalist skills to make the biography feel like a narrative. He talks about his initial impressions of Cardinal Ratzinger in the 1990s, how he sought to smear him with a newspaper article, how he sought to expose Ratzinger's character by interviewing his critics, how Ratzinger himself won him over with his views and with his demeanor. How their interactions made history with Salt of the Earth and God and the World. There's a charm to Seewald's text (his offbeat asides especially, such as how a woman of faith is made more attractive because she believes).

Never would Joseph Ratzinger have thought that a reformed atheistic, Communist, muckraking journalist would become the official biographer of Benedict XVI, but here we have an intimate portrait of mutual respect and perhaps even love. In the wake of Benedict's resignation in February 2013, it was revealed Seewald is planning the sequel (and undoubtedly his final) work on the emeritus pope, due out in 2014. A must read for anyone interested in one of culture's greatest figures.
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