With these words, world-renowned author and NBC Vatican analyst George Weigel begins his long-awaited sequel to the international best seller Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II. More than 10 years in the making, The End and the Beginning: Pope John Paul II—The Victory of Freedom, the Last Years, the Legacy tells the dramatic story of the Pope’s battle with communism in light of new and recently disclosed information and brings to a close Weigel’s landmark portrait of a man who not only left an indelible mark on the Catholic Church, but also changed the course of world history.
When he was elected pope in the fall of 1978, few people had ever heard of the charismatic Karol Wojty³a. But in a very short time he would ignite a revolution of conscience in his native Poland that would ultimately lead to the collapse of European communism and death of the Soviet Union. What even fewer people knew was that the KGB, the Polish Secret Police, and the East German Stasi had been waging a dangerous, decades-long war against Wojty³a and the Vatican itself. Weigel, with unprecedented access to many Soviet-era documents, chronicles John Paul’s struggle against the dark forces of communism.
Moreover, Weigel recounts the tumultuous last years of John Paul’s life as he dealt with a crippling illness as well as the “new world disorder” and revelations about corruption within the Catholic Church. Weigel’s thought-provoking biography of John Paul II concludes with a probing and passionate assessment of a man who lived his life as a witness to hope in service to the Christian ideals he embraced.
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Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Stephen Callaghan on 19-06-17
JP2 - a real hero!
Excellent account of the pivotal role that John Paul II played in the shaping of the events of the 20th century and his witness to hope for the new millennium. He has always been my hero but this book reminded me of the reasons why and inpired me with new ones that I didn't know about. the first part, following the Cold War, is quite heavy and the Slavic names make it a bit difficult to follow some of the intricacies but overall, an outstanding work that we can learn much from.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
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By Gil Michelini on 13-10-13
Insight into Pope John II the Great
What made the experience of listening to The End and the Beginning the most enjoyable?
I thought I was somewhat informed on the pontificate of Pope John Paul II but George Weigel showed me in this excellent book how little I knew about Pope John Paul II the Great.The first part of the book tells an amazing story of the Church in Poland under the Nazis and then the Communist. I am embarrassed that I have ever placed my faith secondary to anything after hearing these stories of people willing—during my lifetime—to endure torture and even death rather than reject their faith in Christ. Is was struck at how the KGB had a whole group focused on bringing down Catholicism. I never considered that Vatican II or any Vatican office or European chancery would have Communist spies. Yes, this includes men who wore the Roman collar. It seems clear that God raised up Karol Wojtyla in very difficult situations to prepare him to sit in Peter’s chair for 26 years.In the second part of the book, Weigel takes us inside the Vatican between 1979 and 2005 to learn about the role Pope John Paul II played in the event of those years and some insight into what is required of the pope. While I was aware of the Great Jubilee celebrations, after reading this, I wish I could relive it following the agenda Pope John Paul II created for us.The last part is a reflection of the legacy of Pope John Paul II. Weigel draws on his insight to look at pontificate as we set into the deeper water where Pope John Paul II directed this ship. Weigel’s insight of why Pope John Paul II did or did not address issues helps to understand the direction of Pope Benedict XVI and perhaps even some insight into why he abdicated. There is section where Weigel lists the Bishops Pope John Paul II appointed different from the recommendations of the national bishop conferences. The lists includes the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Jorge Mario Bergoglio.I take away a greater respect for Pope John Paul II and a desire to understand his teachings.Before starting the second part of the book, be sure you know the meaning of the word modernity as Weigel uses it often.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
By Merisa on 15-03-17
The end and the beginning in review
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, as I learned everything about my favorite saint. We have so much in common including but not limited to living through a war, as well as outdoors activities such as skiing and kayaking. Thank Q for putting such a great book about a great person on the market. I would recommend this book to anyone whether they're Catholic or not who want to learn about Saint John Paul the second.