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A Pope and a President: John Paul II, Ronald Reagan, and the Extraordinary Untold Story of the 20th Century

4.35  ·  Rating details ·  434 ratings  ·  71 reviews
In this fascinating new book, acclaimed scholar and bestselling author Paul Kengor tells the untold story of the partnership between Pope John Paul II and President Ronald Reagan and how together they changed the course of world history.

Kengor shows that the bonds between the pope and the president ran deeper than anyone has suspected, and that these bonds drove the two m
Hardcover, 624 pages
Published May 1st 2017 by Intercollegiate Studies Institute (first published April 18th 2017)
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Start your review of A Pope and a President: John Paul II, Ronald Reagan, and the Extraordinary Untold Story of the 20th Century
Paul Kengor’s exhaustive Cold War chronicle focuses mainly on the Pope and President in the title, Pope St. John Paul II and US President Ronald Reagan. But larger than life though these two are, the story Kengor here tells is bigger even than them. Other key roles go to FDR, Pope Pius XII (previously Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli), Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, the Kennedys, Reagan Administration members including Bill Casey and Frank Shakespeare, and USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev. It is the story of t ...more
Jul 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I'd always assumed the Cold War would be less interesting than, say, WWI or WWII... but this "war that wasn't" had just as much plotting and maneuvering as any war with an official declaration.

This book was absolutely fascinating. I only wish I could have finished it more quickly! JPII and RR are unsung heroes in most of the world with regard to their roles in the collapse of communism. I was enthralled to learn of their strategies and influence in dismantling such a devious regime. They are bo
Oct 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Anyone remotely interested in the Cold War would love this well researched book. John Paul II and Reagan were the primary reasons for the fall of Communism. This book will let you in on every detail - sometimes repeating itself- but it was fascinating. If you are a student of modern history this book is for you.
Jul 02, 2017 rated it it was ok
Very repetitive book. The book should have been cut in half. Not that it wasn't an interesting premise - that together President Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II were instrumental in bringing about the demise of the Soviet Union and Communism. This is common knowledge and you could make a good case that Margaret Thatcher could be included with the other two. But I think Kengor oversells his analysis by using circumstantial evidence that Reagan was a borderline Catholic with a special reverenc ...more
Dec 22, 2017 rated it liked it
This is very well researched and offers a lot of new insights on the relationship between these two incredible men of history. What I learned was very insightful and inspiring, which is why I'm giving it 3 stars. The writing style (repetitive and verbose at times, with a tendency to elevate the author's personal opinions to an excessive degree) was a bit tiring by the end. But the insights are extremely valuable. Certainly worth the read. ...more
Ken Madsen
Sep 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Mr. Kengor tells the story of the unreported relationship between Ronald Reagan and St. John Paul II. Though they met in person only 5 times their "kindred souls" worked together to bring the downfall of the "Evil Empire"- communism in the Soviet Union. The author spent over 10 years researching the book. This is definitely a Catholic perspective on the relationship and it helps if you are familiar with the Catholic faith. (I'm Catholic).

One fascinating story is the involvement of the Soviet gov
Jun 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful history

A very carefully researched scholarly history of President Reagan and Pope John Paul II, and how their relationship brought an end to the USSR. Which I consider a miracle; and if anyone, besides these two men, say they knew the USSR would collapse they are full of baloney. President Reagan and Saint Pope John Paul II, and many many others prayed for this to happen, but even they did not know it would occur in the amazing way it did.
Oct 11, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: history, non-fiction
“If you are good at disinformation, you can get away with anything.”

Three stars is a gift, based on the good story hidden among the twaddle. As published, this text was written by a Roman Catholic for Roman Catholics, not a dispassionate pursuit of the facts. Non-Roman Catholics will have to sort through a lot of religious detail.

“This book is a work of historical investigation, not a religious apologetic.”

Not an apologetic; propaganda. His Marian hagiography may be well received by Roman Cat
Sep 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Amazing account of the little know bond between Pope John Paul II and President Ronald. Their lives had many similarities, including attempts on both of their lives just days apart which forged in them an even closer bond. Many "goosebump" moments in this book. ...more
An epic that lays a foundation for future generations to research the diplomacy and worldviews shared between Saint Pope John Paul II and President Ronald Reagan.

This book gives a thorough explanation of how the events at Fatima inspired the Pope, and played a central theme in Papal assassination attempt and the consecration of Russia. The effect the Polish pope had on Catholicism in Poland (which was severely repressed due to atheistic Communism being in control).

The religious side of Reagan (o
Carson J
Jan 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful book that describes the important roles that these two great men played in bringing down communism. I especially enjoyed the similarities that Paul Kengor displays in the lives of Reagan and St. John Paul II.
Ronald Aylward
Jan 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Leadership at its finest.
Aug 28, 2020 added it
Shelves: non-fiction, history
Very interesting and detailed account.
Tom Rowe
This book started out very interesting. Then it bogged down with lots of repetition and stories about tracking down sources. It presents a very Catholic view on Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II. The prophesies at Fatima and the Madonna front and center in this story. It could have been 1/3 to 1/2 as long and been very interesting. I did like getting this unique perspective on history.
Mar 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
A fascinating book. And an excellent reminder that a few men acting on principle and with determination can change the world. But it takes uncommon courage to recognize true evil and to act with dedication and purpose. This non- Christian is grateful that John Paul II and President Reagan found common ground and strength of conviction to confront what truly was an Evil Empire.

While Kenzie strikes me as more of an awestruck commentator than a historian, he does present a good case for his protago
Jun 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
If you believe that Ronald Reagan was a good and honorable President, you ain't seen nothing yet. This book lays out how he and Pope John Paul II worked together -- along with the Divine Plan -- to bring down the USSR and communism throughout Eastern Europe. My respect for both men is now greater and more definable after reading about their mission, as learned from the latest discovered documents and interviews. What a great story. ...more
Oct 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
A Pope and a President
John Paul II, Ronald Reagan, and the Extraordinary Untold Story of the 20th Century
Author Paul Kengor
Narrated by James Anderson Foster
Publication date Sep 20, 2017
Running time 23 hrs 21 min
Courtesy Tantor Media

I remember the spring of 1981 well. I was a freshmen in community college. I had turned eighteen the fall before and voted in my first election. The end of March my family, friends and classmates were all shocked by the assignation attempt on President Ronald Reagan.
Gonzaga Escauriaza
Oct 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It caught my full attention from the very first beginning.

It is real history and a very important piece of the 20th century, if not the most important.

It should be mandatory to read in the schools. The kids have to know what terrible damage the communists had caused to millions of human beings during the 70 years in power.

They have denied freedom, tortured and killed more than one hundred million innocent people of their own countries.

It has been the most outrage and shameful act of the 20th ce
Jim Gallen
Jan 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
“A Pope and A President” is the story of the cooperation between Pope John Paul II and President Reagan in bringing down the Evil Empire. What makes this tome unique is the emphasis on the common belief held by these two victims of assassination attempts that they were saved for some specific work, particularly the defeat of Communism. Clearly the Pope believed that the Virgin Mary deflected the bullet so as to save his life. A theme of the book is that both the Pope and the President were very ...more
Joseph Serwach
May 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Saint and the President: The alliance that destroyed communism

In 1989, Ronald Reagan pointed to a framed photo of Pope John Paul II in his California home and explained the Polish pontiff was "My Best Friend." Like Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, their friendship was forged by historic events and their place in history and together, they changed the world. More dramatically, Reagan and JPII were shot six weeks apart, miraculously survived and were convinced God has saved them for a
Jul 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book is about two of my heroes, Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II. My only complaint about the book is its length- it was almost 600 pages and definitely could have used some editing! But it was a fascinating read detailing their lives and the coincidences that tied them together. It also had many interesting details about Our Lady of Fátima, who predicted the assassination attempt on the Pope. As the book notes: “He survived the assassination attempt to join forces with Ronald Reagan—who ...more
Oct 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a giant of a book. First in it's historical value, second in the two men who's lives it depicts and in sheer length, 650 pages. The book begins in 1917 with the miraculous event of Our Lady of Fatima. From this unfolds seemingly separate events in the lives of these two men. But as the uncanny parallels unfold, we see the development of a deeply revered friendship. Out of mutual respect and courage, their unshakable faith and determination would bring forth an end to human suffering and ...more
Jim Milway
Jan 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Ronald Reagan, John Paul ll, the defeat of Communism - how can you go wrong with a book that covers those topics? This book tells the story of how the lives of Reagan and JP2 came together at a point in time to defeat the evil empire. Both were saved from an assassin's bullets and concluded that God had plans for them. The book is not simply about the 1980s when the two were working together. Instead, it charts their careers as they came to their positions of power. It connects them with Fatima ...more
Noah Thomas
Jan 21, 2019 rated it liked it
In terms of content this is a 4-4.5 star book, great stories and perspectives. Kengor is exceptionally thorough in his work and researched extensively in his preparation for this project. Unfortunately, I didn't appreciate the order and style of writing and felt it deserved a very solid 3 stars as a result. I think the prime issue is that he has so much to say he follows one thread and when he reaches the end goes to the beginning to start another. By the end of the book because of how closely t ...more
Nov 27, 2019 rated it did not like it
I couldn't get further in this book. It is allegedly about the relationship between President Reagan and Pope John Paul II. But it reads like a Catholic apologetic, going on and on about Catholic leaders and how much the Catholic Church did to identify and work against the communist and fascist threats. The author's evangelization of his Catholic faith by constantly including saints and intercessions of Mary could be appealing to a Catholic. But to the point I read, it barely included any refere ...more
Rosemary A Woolley
Excellent historical report about two men of common ideals!!
In about the middle of the book it was very repetitive. That caused me to run through that part of the book. It is too bad that the media both secular and religious did not comment or report on their relationship!! I lived during that period and do not remember much from either of them. Of course during that time I was a mother of two teenage sons and a Dean at a college and a hard working stockbroker!! I would recommend it to anyone i
Michael Jolls
Jan 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
A mesmerising read! Paul Kengor distinctly and articulately draws the parallels between JPII and Reagan in ways that will give the reader an enriched take on the Cold War. The book begins in 1917 and meticulously takes you through the historical events, large & small, that contributed to the keynote events of the 1900s. And still, the book functions as a duo biography of the two central figures. I dare anyone that has a soft heart for communism to read this and to truly acknowledge the worst tha ...more
Sam Honeycutt
Mar 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kindred Spirits, Kindred Souls

As someone who followed and studied these two giants I knew that there was a friendship between them. But never realised just how much of a bond these two anticomunist fighters' lives were so much alike. The obvious was their anticomunist fight and both being victims of would be assassins but to my surprise Mary. This book puts a spotlight on the religious faith in Mary and feeling that they survived for a purpose that both men shared. I highly recommend this book.
Dave Gonzalez
Apr 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is a real gem. It is extremely well researched, outlining the surprising parallels in the lives and faiths of the Catholic saint and the protestant president. The author transports you back to when the planet was split by two conflicting ideologies, one founded on the eradication of all religion (which is still underway in China). This book operates on several levels, providing a historical, personal, political, and spiritual view of the relationship and accomplishments of a Saint Pope ...more
Thomas G. Peterson
The USSR Demise

The story related here has received to little recognition. Reagan 's actions as President and before to point out the real nature of communism in spite of criticism were historic as was the. Interaction of Pope John Paul. Their collaborative efforts were remarkable. What a shame the establishment of those career agents and politicians was so against hearing th truth.
This should be remembered in this present time when many truths are being questioned by those who are supposed to be
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Author and politicial science professor.

He is executive director of The Center for Vision & Values, a Grove City College think-tank/policy center.

Kengor has focused much of his work on Ronald Reagan, faith and the presidency, conservative politics, the Cold War, the communist movement, and Catholicism.

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