There is already a plethora of biographies of the present Pope, many of them ""quickies"" intended to capture the current news value. Such is not the case in this thoughtful, scholarly and authoritative book. While intended for the general reader, it is not a ""popular"" biography. Great care was exercised in securing reliable primary sources, and to present a serious, objective account of the Pope's life, from his boyhood days on to the present. The portrait of a serious and believably saintly man emerges, while his wit, his love of people and of art, and the very human personality are not minimized. A greater historical dimension than has so far been recognized emerges from this handling of the material:- his twenty years spent in the Byzantine world make understandable the reasons for his ecumenical hopes and concern; the discussion of his role in the worker-priest controversy in France sheds further light on his character; the political and ecclesiastical background places him in the overall scene. Readers of earlier biographies will find that this adds materially to their knowledge. A Biography and an annotated list of Popes and anti-Popes named John are included.