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A Life with Karol: My Forty-Year Friendship with the Man Who Became Pope

3.99  ·  Rating Details  ·  128 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews
This intimate, affectionate portrait of Pope John Paul II by his longtime secretary and confidant reveals fascinating new details about the opinions, hopes, fears, and dramatic life of this public man.

“I had accompanied him for almost forty years: twelve in Kraków and then twenty-seven in Rome. I was always with him, always at his side. Now, in the moment of death, he’d go
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published March 4th 2008 by Doubleday Religion (first published January 1st 2008)
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Apr 16, 2008 Jennifer rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people of all faiths
I'm in the middle of this book and am really enjoying it. I have already learned a few things I never knew about the Holy Father...and I really like the way the book is written in a very "conversational" style. Cardinal Dziwisz is very open and forthright. I will add more to my review when I finish it...
4/16: I finished the book this afternoon and I have to say, it was a very moving and worthwhile read. I had a hard time completely understanding the political climate and its effects on Poland an
Jul 02, 2008 Richard rated it liked it
Actually, about 2.5 stars. More hagiography, but this time from the Great Man's secretary. One of these days we'll get the warts and all story of John Paul the Great, but probably not until he's a Saint. There are a few things to learn in this volume: his interview with his would be assassin is illuminating, JP was there to forgive, Agfa just kept wondering how he could have missed; the tales of Solidarity are interesting; and the Pope's final days are heart-breaking. I have to admit I liked (ma ...more
This is a 3.5 star read. It's neat getting to learn more about someone I know nothing about. Yet for someone who knew him for 40 years I was expecting more quirks and things from the Pope. Stuff you don't see when he's in the public eye. I liked how he did a day in the life of the Pope.

This was a good historical book about Europe and the Soviet Union as well. I wasn't aware that he was involved in so many World Affairs. I wonder if today's Pope is more or less involved than John Paull II.

I coul
Don Weidinger
Jun 05, 2016 Don Weidinger rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
land in chains, go meet world in Gospel, negative freedoms as tolerance, purification of memory with Germany 1966 1K Poland, aetheism of east materialsm of west, 75 freedom breaks out via Helsinki accord Prague rebellion of workers 6.25.76, respect rights of man and nation, pope at 58, 68 Warsaw students revolt w/o workers, Krakow restarted with both in 77, liberation theology promoted suppression of rights, follow Gospel not human criticisms, traditionalist and progressive, basic human issue is ...more
Jan 15, 2013 Anne rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I am a sucker for books about Pope John Paul II, so I was eager to read this one by Cardinal Dziwisz, who served as the Holy Father's personal secretary for many years. I have to say, though, that this one isn't what I was hoping it would be. The narrator's preface doesn't really explain how Cardinal Dziwisz and the journalist came together on this project, so the narration seems to come out of nowhere. They have to cover the vast amount of time, geography, and material of Pope John Paul II's po ...more
♥ Ibrahim ♥
Nov 23, 2008 ♥ Ibrahim ♥ rated it it was ok
Shelves: biography
I enjoy all I have been reading, but where is the human Pope? He is romantically portrayed in fond, hagiographical terms. Closer to a god than than to a human in this portrayal by this dear Cardinal. I am almost beginning to believe in the infallibility of the Pope due to such romantic portrayal. The author of this book wants to give John Paul all the credit for the downfall of communism when such a huge political issue has rather economic factors to play in a big way, not what the Pope has to s ...more
Feb 15, 2014 Cristian rated it it was ok
I started reading intensely this book enchanted by the sublime emotional preface. I must confess now, at the end, that the grandious personality, spirituality and deeds of Pope John Paul II could have been more suitably reviewed. Even though, I do understand, this is not the Pope's biography but the humble confession of his closest witness, his secretary... Does this lack of strength belong to Cardinal Dziwisz or to journalist Svidercoschi?
Monika Barbara Potocki
Jul 23, 2014 Monika Barbara Potocki rated it really liked it
I liked this book, and it covered a wide range of topics from politics to overseas visits to Cardinal Dziwisz's personal life. However, I was disappointed by the fact that relatively little was said about the author's and the Pope's personal relationship and interactions. There were no huge revelations or anything of the sort, but still, it was a good read.
Mar 19, 2012 Rachielle rated it it was amazing
This was written by Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, the Pope's personal secretary from his days as Bishop of Krakow. The Cardinal begins the book by looking back on what he missed most about the Pope - his peaceful gaze. I immediately understood what he meant, and I felt the same. Even though I had met the Pope only once, when I was twelve, his presence pervaded most of my life, and continues to do so after his death in 2005.

I thoroughly enjoyed the stories about the Pope. I discovered more of his a
Nov 17, 2012 Rachel rated it it was ok
So it definitely took me a while to get through this book. Often chapters referenced documents or topics that I had no idea/understanding of which was confusing. Also, the story was written in two points of views which caused the book to be kind of choppy and not flow well, as the story sometimes doubled back or repeated itself.

That being said the parts of the book that really focused on Pope John Paul's accomplishments and goals were fascinating. I gained a whole new appreciation for what he d
Aug 26, 2015 John rated it liked it
This book did not provide the intimate personal story of The Pope I was hoping for. Instead it tells the life story of the Pope, but without delving much beneath the surface.
Crystal Young
Jul 07, 2012 Crystal Young rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
Very interesting and enlightening insider's view of Pope John Paul II. As he became Pope very early in my life and held the papacy for 27 years, he is still the person who comes to mind when I hear the title "Pope". The book paints him as a consistent, authentic, credible person whose devotion to prayer and Scripture should be a lesson, example, and conviction to us all. Though I do not necessarily agree with all of his theology or platforms, after reading this book, I can certainly see where an ...more
Aug 25, 2010 Mike rated it it was amazing
Shelves: catholic-church
For those fans of the late Pope John Paul II (the Great as he is referred to as now) who are looking for more of an intimate biography...this book was written by his right hand man, not the current Pope, Benedict XVI, but his personal secretary, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz.

Its a story of the rise of Pope John Paul II through the eyes of his personal secretary. It described the Pope and how he tackled some of the many problems of the world and also his many accomplishments of his pontificate...Thi
Susan Melillo
Nov 02, 2015 Susan Melillo rated it it was amazing
I just began reading and I can hardly put it down. To learn more about the life of Saint John Paul II is incredible.
Amy kravitz
May 02, 2008 Amy kravitz rated it liked it
So far so good. I wish the author gave some beginning biographical history on Pope John Paul 2. The book explains how John Paul was instrumental in bringing down the walls of Communism in Eastern Europe and in his native Poland.
Towards the end it talked about the Pope's failing health, but it was only discussed in passing.
In general, I liked the book, but I felt that the book needed more "meat." There were quite a few chapters, but I wish they went into more depth concerning the life and action
Mike Fretz
May 23, 2015 Mike Fretz rated it really liked it
The style of the writing with the two authors words alternating back and force was a bit cumbersome at times. It could be hard to remember who was speaking. But the content was great!
Apr 13, 2008 Ken rated it liked it
Recommends it for: someone looking for an overview of the Pope's life.
Recommended to Ken by: Tricia
This was an interesting book about Pope John Paul II. From the title, I expected a somewhat personal look at the Pope and his day to day life, but the focus of the book is more on the big movements in the Pope's life--his rise from Cardinal to Pope, Poland's struggles for freedom, the collapse of communism, and events on the world stage. There is also a good deal of discussion on theological points, some of which I did not have the theological background to catch the significance.
Dec 15, 2011 Mimi rated it really liked it
A man whose spirituality has inspired and moved the entire world. This is not only a testament of his sanctity, but also an uplifting manual on how to remain spiritually grounded in an increasingly secular world.

Though with a rather elementary writing style (could be further copyedited), this book never fails to move one to prayer, to seek a life of happiness with every page. Truly, Pope John Paul II is one of the most inspiring icons of the century.
Jun 02, 2008 Christian rated it really liked it
I particularly like the conversational style of the book. One comes away from the book feeling like they new the Holy Father. It also gives a context for many of his actions through his papacy, especially in Poland. I was not aware of how much impact he had in Poland during his reign. I heartily suggest this book for anyone who would like a quick read about John Paul the Great.
Mar 28, 2009 Lisa rated it really liked it
When Pope John Paul died on the Saturday before Divine Mercy Sunday, I was sadden that he didn't have Mass for one of his favorite feasts, so I was very happy to learn that Cardinal Dziwisz started saying the Vigil for him before he died. :)

I also like hearing about how he would sneak out to go skiing or he would jump from moving cars to escape spies. Pope on a mission, indeed.
Jun 30, 2012 Ashley rated it really liked it
This book was very moving. The way Pope John Paul II responded to the assasination attempt on his life was inspiring. The positive way he approached his Parkinson's disease was incredible. Plus I loved when it talked about his close friendship with Mother Teresa.
Robert Luke
Nov 24, 2012 Robert Luke rated it liked it
The descriptions of the attempt on his life in 1981 and of his passing in 2005 were moving and better than I have read elsewhere. The book is merely okay otherwise but is still worth reading by those interested in Blessed Pope John Paul the Great. Santo subito!
Mary Alice
Nov 16, 2008 Mary Alice rated it really liked it
This is not only a testimony to a 40 year-old friendship based on loyalty and respect but also a mini history lesson. Oh, you'll need your Kleenex reading the last chapter. :)
Katarzyna Mlynarczyk
Oct 23, 2007 Katarzyna Mlynarczyk rated it it was amazing
This book is really good to know some more polish culture, history. You can learn, how to be, from a Great Person.
Nick Aho
It was a good insight of the Late Holy Father from the eyes of his secretary Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz.
Jun 17, 2008 Kathy rated it did not like it
I think it could be a great book, but just very hard to read and follow.
Bill Melo
Sep 01, 2011 Bill Melo rated it it was amazing
Loved it. Didn't want to put it down
Oct 11, 2008 Trudy rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Trudy by: Personal choice.
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