In the ""World Leaders Past and Present"" series, the career of Karol Wojtyla, the first non-Italian to become Pope in nearly 500 years. While Watch doesn't ignore the controversy surrounding John Paul II, who has made human rights the dominant theme of his papacy, his tone is adulatory (""Even Italian people embraced their new pope. How could they reject a man who had reached out by speaking to them in their native language?"") and his presentation biased. Commenting on the negative response to the 1988 papal encyclical On Social Concerns of the Church, Walch notes that ""Western nations had expected John Paul to side with them on the issues of social justice and economic development, but he had decided instead to be fair."" He cites the case of French conservative theologian Marcel Lefebvre to show that John Paul was ""tolerant of dissidents with conservative views."" The Pope ""avoided inflammatory language,"" but Lefebvre ""resisted all efforts"" and ""escalated the tension"" by consecrating new bishops, so that ""John Paul felt he had no choice but to excommunicate Lefebvre."" Many contemporary quotes; attractive b&w photos; but the book's usefulness is limited by its lack of balance. Bibliography; chronology; index.