This is an exceptional and exceptionally clear work that covers a complex and sensitive topic: The Truth of Christianity. Of course, as then Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, it was his job to defend the Truth of the Church. One would understandably question whether or not he would be able to approach such a controversial topic as the history of religion with any sense of objectivity.
Then Cardinal Ratzinger not only treats a huge and extremely diverse collection of works (Ranging from Hindu writers to Muslim and Jewish scholars, to dissenting and Orthodox Christian theologians) with more charity and respect than readers of "the Catholic Church's Rottweiller" might expect, but he weaves them into a strong narrative as to what really separates the great religions of history - their dogma, their impact with other cultures, their approach to Reason as well as their fruits. What seems to be his arch-enemy, Relativism, is left limbless and defeated, and those who would defend this lie are left intact, but chastened.
In the end, one is left with the sense that the new Pope has put a tremendous amount of work and thought into these complex issues, and has a gift to be able to communicate them clearly and charitably. He disproves as utter nonsense any presumption the reader may have of a closed-minded doctrinaire theologian forcing his viewpoint.
Truth communicated with charity is devastating to the Culture of Lies. I love JPII and miss him dearly, but like many others often had trouble reading his work, and felt rewarded for making the effort. I found no such trouble following Pope Benedict in this work. I can't wait for his first encyclical.