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A Life with Karol: My Forty-Year Friendship with the Man Who Became Pope Hardcover – March 4, 2008

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Image (March 4, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385523742
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385523745
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #337,616 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Pope John Paul II's personal secretary, who is now Cardinal Dziwisz, had an insider's view of many of the events that shaped John Paul II's pontificate. Dziwisz was a seminary student in Krakow when he first encountered the man then known as Karol Wojtyla. He later became a close and trusted ally of the pope for four decades. The author does not hide his glowing opinion of the deceased pontiff; as he describes it, John Paul II stood courageously against the oppressive Communist regime in his native Poland, supported the nascent Solidarity movement and was beloved by people of all nations and religions around the globe. These two men enjoyed an intimate friendship and shared a love for Catholicism and their priesthood. Perhaps it is the closeness of that friendship that prevents Dziwisz from criticizing John Paul II for anything he did as pope. For example, his claim that John Paul II's entire pontificate was a continual implementation of Vatican II is widely debated. Despite the hagiographical tone, one thing is clear—John Paul II was a formidable world figure in the latter half of the 20th century, and he never allowed his position to affect his ability to be a good friend. (Mar. 11)
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"Memorable.... Richly artistic." ---Library Journal --This text refers to the MP3 CD edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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See all 30 customer reviews
I found this to be a very interesting read.
James Gallen
This book centers on the travels of Pope John Paul II.
Jan Peczkis
It reveals the man, his passion, and his love.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Kerry Walters VINE VOICE on March 28, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There's absolutely no doubt in my mind that John Paul II was the greatest man of my lifetime. I say this, by the way, as a non-Roman Catholic. No other world leader touched so many people or exerted such moral influence on the contours of the late 20th century. I didn't always agree with him--I thought his negative views of Latin American liberation theology too harsh, for example--but I never for a moment doubted either his integrity or his deep, deep spirituality. I look forward to the day when he's canonized.

Stanislaw Cardinal Dziwisz's A Life with Karol is a loving portrait of his forty years as John Paul's secretary. Dziwisz was in a perfect position to be John Paul's chronicler: an ever-present but unobstrusive spectator of the daily activities, private spiritual life, and public persona of first Karol Wojtyla, bishop, archbishop, and cardinal, and then John Paul II, Pope.

Dziwisz's memoir sheds interesting light on Wojtyla's embrace of Gandhian tactics of resistance to the Polish communist authorities--a fidelity to nonviolence that led him to speak out strongly against warfare in the closing years of his pontificate; Wojtyla's great reservations about accepting the College of Cardinals' election to the papacy; his deeply-engrained conciliar temperament, a spirit of collaboration and cooperation that endeared him to both clergy and laity alike; his firm resolve to continue the work of Vatican II; his emphasis on the "new evangelization," which sought to reinvigorate a West increasingly indifferent to religion, and the ardent Christian humanism that became its centerpiece; and his efforts toward interfaith dialogue.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By thank you on May 2, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This book is an intimate look at Pope John Paul 11 through the eyes of his close friend Cardinal Dziwisz.
The author was a personal friend of the Pope for about 40 years and he tells little interesting facts about the Pope that only a friend would know. The most interesting and touching part for me was the time the Pope was dying and the things he said and did before he died. Only someone who was at his dying bedside would know and share with us and this is done in this deep and loving book.The Pope's love of God and the church and the people of the world is so evident.
When you finish the book you will have a lot to quietly ponder about this man who we called Pope John Paul 11.
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18 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Patrick Hull on May 12, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This book is one more fine tome praising the life and work of Karol Wojtyla, known to the whole world as John Paul II. It is a pleasant and defensive biography of the pope told by his friend of many years. Also, it stands as a nice promotion piece for his possible beatification or canonization.

But, the book is a huge disappointment in terms of revealing anything really personal about the man who elevated so many as Blessed or Saint for the homage of the universal church. The icon is preserved, but the real man called by the Spirit to be a saint and prophet among us remains hidden.

Did Karol Wojtyla: smoke, enjoy mystery or science fiction writing, watch favorite t.v. programs, have favorite films, explore the myriad halls and hidden doors within the Vatican, ever don a disguise and roam the streets of Rome, love chocolates, doff his cassock in favor of mufti, sing in the shower, have pets, shudder at the thought of a forthcoming visitor, get sick from a meal overseas, continue to swim in the famous papal pool, stop and chat with the Swiss Guards or play cards or table games with household workers, have hobbies, prepare a meal himself, and so forth?

So many years we watched him, admired him, were upliftred by him in good times and times of sorrow and sickness, and read his works. When will we know this man who loved to tease, had a playful side, and became a saint?
That is the book which is awaited. I wish Cardinal Dziwisz had shared more of this kind of thing, the insight of a friend.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By J.M. on July 3, 2008
Format: Hardcover
If you were hoping this book would give you a very personal look about Karol Wojtyla the man, you will be very disappointed. Stanislaw Dziwisz, Wojtyla's personal secretary for 40 years, discusses only John Paul II the pope.

Furthermore, only slightly more than half of this volume is in Dziwisz's own voice. The other half is written by the "narrator" - Gian Franco Svidercoschi - in "conversation" with Dziwisz. Svidercoschi doesn't bother to introduce himself in the book, but he worked on the 2005 TV movie, "Karol: A Man Who Became Pope," and a book that came out in 2007 entitled "Stories of Karol: The Unknown Life of John Paul II." Svidercoschi is billed as a "well-known Vatican observer" and comes from a Polish family.

I was privileged to meet Cardinal Dziwisz and hear him speak when he did a book-signing June 24, 2008 at the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington, D.C. At that time he confessed he was unhappy with the "overly familiar" and misleading title "A Life with Karol" and had preferred his own title of "Witness," which probably would have been more appropriate. But his editors, Dziwisz said, insisted their title would sell more books.

Disappointments notwithstanding, this book is worth adding to your collection. Dziwisz gives a beautiful, personal accounting of Wojtyla's last hours on earth. And he does a great job of explaining John Paul II's motivations for the unique conduct of his papacy and his responses to the criticisms he received. I found it riveting to the end.
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