Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini -- orator, author, ecclesiastical ghost writer, diplomat of the fifteenth century -- became Pope Pius II in a period of history which saw the papacy possibly at its lowest ebb. Christians of the period were shamed and outraged by the spectacle of a profusion of anti-popes created by a stroke of the pen and the incipience of schism. Ambitious Aeneas' fluency in speech and writing and shrewdness in diplomacy eventually led to his election as Supreme Pontiff. In this book, which is divided into Aeneas' secular life and the change which took place when he embarked on an ecclesiastical career, the author shows how the future Pontiff lived both lives fully. His human contacts and compassions helped to make him the understanding, compassionate leader of Christendom that he became, according to the author. The book has a timeliness since it deals with the ill-fated Council of Basel. It could well be read as background on the eve of the reconvening of the Second Vatican Council later in September. In a way, Mitchell has produced a ""The Making of a Pope -- Fifteenth Century Style"". His portrayal of Pope Pius II's triumphs, disappointments and failures is a colorful retelling of the life of a man of courage and determination, a true Christian, a delightful writer who was also a great Pope.