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Karol Wojtyla's early life experiences were of intense love and intense loss: born in Poland in 1920, he was eight when his mother died, twelve when his older brother died of scarlet fever in the hospital where he worked as a doctor, and twenty when his severe but loving father died during the Nazi occupation. God and the Catholic Church were from the beginning his consolation and strength. What is new and unusual about this timely biography is the attention the author gives to the inner man.Garry O'Connor has not only investigated Karol Wojtyla's life before he became pope, his love of football, skiing and the outdoor life, his commitment to acting, his friendships with men and with women, his experiences under German then Soviet occupation, his nationalism, his early years as a priest, but has also subtly analysed the pope's own poems, plays and philosophical works as clues to what made him tick. The result is a living portrait, vivid and accessible, based on scrupulous research that dramatically tracks the personal tragedies, including the assassination attempt in 1981, and the great public confrontations on the world stage.
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In Universal Father, leading theatrical biographer O’Connor has produced a book that is deeply respectful and engrossing. -- Roger Lewis, Daily Express
There will no doubt be a flood of biographies but this one will remain the most popular amoung Roman Catholics. -- A N Wilson in The Mail on Sunday
Universal Father is a distinctive, insightful and enjoyable book. -- Peter Standford in the Independent
The first biography to tell the full and extraordinary story of one of the most influential figures of the twentieth century, setting the private individual in the public context
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