Pope John Paul II is one of the pivotal figures of this century, the spiritual head of more than one billion believers, and a world statesman of immense stature and influence. Yet, at the age of seventy-six and in the eighteenth year of his papacy, he remains a mystery -- theologically, politically, and personally. Now, through unprecedented access to both the Pope himself and those close to him, veteran New York Times correspondent, and award-winning author Tad Szulc delivers the definitive biography of John Paul II. This strikingly intimate portrait highlights the Polishness that shapes the Pope's mysticism and pragmatism, while providing a behind-the-scenes look at the significant events of his public and private life, including the inside story of the negotiations involving John Paul II, Soviet President Gorbachev, and General Jaruzelski of Poland that led to Poland's and Eastern Europe's transition from communism to democracy, John Paul II's secret diplomacy, which resulted in the establishment of relations between the Holy See and Israel, and the never-before-told story of how the Polish communist regime helped to "make" Karol Wojtyla an archbishop, the key step on his road to the papacy. Fascinating and thought provoking, this biography of Pope John Paul II is vital reading not only for Roman Catholics, but for anyone interested in one of the most important figures of our time.