Takeaway: Regardless of whether you are Protestant or Catholic, John Paul II was important.
Last year I picked up Witness to Hope for kindle when it was on sale. But the size and time committment kept me from actually reading it. As much as I would like this blog to not influence my reading, I often don’t pick up long books because of my attempt to keep up, with assistance from several regular contributors, a 5 review a week schedule.
So I do not often make room for a biography that clocks in at more than 1000 pages. At the same time I tend to hate abridged audiobooks. If it was important enough to put in the book initially, it was probably important enough to read later.
But when I noticed that the audiobook of Witness to Hope was in the Scribd audiobook library, even though it is abridged, I picked it up.
The actual content is just under half of the original book. And it feels like an abridgement. The biggest problem with the abridgment is that it seems like it focuses too much on the political life of John Paul II as Pope and not enough on the spiritual influence. Spiritual is certainly there, but when you compare the time devoted, it seems less important.
This is also an older biography from prior to his death and so it does not really give the full wide view of John Paul II’s life like a biography that was written today would. This is definitely comprehensive, and clearly an invited biography, but not a definitive biography as the description says.
Weigel is a fan and it shows. Not quite to hagiography stage, but close. I certainly do not think a non-Catholic needs to be the one to write an objective overview of John Paul II, but there there does need to be a balance between Weigel’s insider look and the more distant view of an outsider.
I am glad I listened to this, John Paul II really deserves the praise he gets. But I am also glad that I chose the abridged version. Not because I don’t want to read more about him later, but I think I would like to read more from a different source to get another opinion.
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