"His Holiness: John Paul II and the...


"His Holiness: John Paul II and the Hidden History of Our Time," by Carl Bernstein and Marco Politi, Doubleday, 582 pages, $27.50.

Make no mistake, this is a work of journalism, not current history.

The book is a vast expansion of a cover story Carl Bernstein wrote for Time magazine in 1992 suggesting that the Reagan administration and John Paul II had engaged in a "holy alliance" intended to destabilize the Communist government of Poland.

When U.S. government documents are released, we will probably gain a better sense of how deeply the pope involved himself with Solidarity. In the meantime, it's too bad "His Holiness" is overshadowed by political controversy.

Most of the time the biography makes for effective and compelling journalism. The fall of Polish communism is described in detail; the candid remarks of Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski are riveting; the dissections of church infighting, particularly with regard to contraception, the role of women and liberation theology, are also absorbing.

Pub Date: 10/20/96

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