POPE JOHN PAUL II AND THE CATHOLIC RESTORATION
The best conservative treatment of the Pope to date, but so fiercely partisan that no one to the left of William Buckley will be able to stomach it. Johnson has outstanding credentials in both journalism (erstwhile editor of the New Statesman) and history (including a solid History of Christianity), which lend some intellectual weight to what is basically a rather simplistic case: the Catholic Church has been seriously ill, but John Paul is its skilled and resolute physician, and with any luck the patient will make a splendid recovery. Even more telling than this medical analogy, however, is the political one in Johnson's title: after the destructive hurly-burly of the Vatican II Commonwealth, Catholics now have a vigorous king back on the throne. After a brisk and pointed summary of Karol Wojtyla's pre-election career, Johnson presents the Pope's life since October 1978 as a sort of holy war on five fronts: against the crucifixion of man (by Marxist-Leninist atheism), the temptation of violence (to which Latin American theolibs are especially prone), secularization by stealth (contraception, feminism, etc.), threats to Catholic certitudes (such as papal infallibility), and the shadow of heresy (as cast by Hans Kung and his ilk). If you can accept without protest Johnson's apotheosis of the pope (any pope) as the high priest of the planet, you may well be swayed by this forceful plea-for-the-defense. If not, Johnson's effort is liable to sound like just another shrill blast on the Vatican trumpet.