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The long-awaited and authoritative biography of Pope Benedict XVI, a giant of the Catholic Church. Benedict XVI: Volume One offers insight into the young life and rise through the Church's ranks of a man who would become a hero and a lightning rod for Catholics the world over. Based on countless hours of interviews in Rome with Benedict himself, this much-anticipated two-v The long-awaited and authoritative biography of Pope Benedict XVI, a giant of the Catholic Church. Benedict XVI: Volume One offers insight into the young life and rise through the Church's ranks of a man who would become a hero and a lightning rod for Catholics the world over. Based on countless hours of interviews in Rome with Benedict himself, this much-anticipated two-volume biography is the definitive record of the life of Joseph Ratzinger and the legacy of Pope Benedict XVI. Volume I follows the early life of the future Pope, from his days growing up in Germany and his conscription into the Hitler Youth during World War II to his career as an academic theologian and eventual Archbishop of Munich. Volume II, to be published in 2021, will cover his move to Rome under Pope John Paul II, his ascension to the papacy, and his controversial retirement and news-making statements under his successor, Pope Francis I. This necessary companion to Benedict's own memoir, Last Testament, is the fullest account to date of the life of a radical Catholic leader who has continued to make news while cloistered in retirement in the Vatican gardens.


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The long-awaited and authoritative biography of Pope Benedict XVI, a giant of the Catholic Church. Benedict XVI: Volume One offers insight into the young life and rise through the Church's ranks of a man who would become a hero and a lightning rod for Catholics the world over. Based on countless hours of interviews in Rome with Benedict himself, this much-anticipated two-v The long-awaited and authoritative biography of Pope Benedict XVI, a giant of the Catholic Church. Benedict XVI: Volume One offers insight into the young life and rise through the Church's ranks of a man who would become a hero and a lightning rod for Catholics the world over. Based on countless hours of interviews in Rome with Benedict himself, this much-anticipated two-volume biography is the definitive record of the life of Joseph Ratzinger and the legacy of Pope Benedict XVI. Volume I follows the early life of the future Pope, from his days growing up in Germany and his conscription into the Hitler Youth during World War II to his career as an academic theologian and eventual Archbishop of Munich. Volume II, to be published in 2021, will cover his move to Rome under Pope John Paul II, his ascension to the papacy, and his controversial retirement and news-making statements under his successor, Pope Francis I. This necessary companion to Benedict's own memoir, Last Testament, is the fullest account to date of the life of a radical Catholic leader who has continued to make news while cloistered in retirement in the Vatican gardens.

30 review for Benedict XVI The Biography: Volume One

  1. 5 out of 5

    Charlie Finch

    The definitive record of the life of Joseph Ratzinger. Peter Seewald’s first volume is brimming with theological intrigue, historical fact, and Catholic anecdote. It’s written with a flair to satisfy the faithful, but in no way panders to a dialectic of the church versus the world, or any such plight of enemies and foe. It’s an objective study of the years 1927–1965 and a stark reminder of just how eventful and transformative the 20th century was in the lives of many, not just Ratzinger and his The definitive record of the life of Joseph Ratzinger. Peter Seewald’s first volume is brimming with theological intrigue, historical fact, and Catholic anecdote. It’s written with a flair to satisfy the faithful, but in no way panders to a dialectic of the church versus the world, or any such plight of enemies and foe. It’s an objective study of the years 1927–1965 and a stark reminder of just how eventful and transformative the 20th century was in the lives of many, not just Ratzinger and his family. The future Pope grew up with Catholic parents in Bavaria. They partook in religious festivals and he was clearly zealous and curious for the ‘spirit’ at an early age. However, these hopes for priesthood were dashed by the horrors of Nazi Germany and its ongoing turmoil with the church. Brace yourself for a history lesson here on shocking Nazi Christian state ideology and deathly persecutions of the martyrs and many thousands of other religious denominations, including the infamous “July plot” to assassinate Hitler with the evangelical Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Ratzinger emerges into a post-war continent lost in faith, but he overcomes the odds by engaging in intellectual learning at a seminary and is soon influential in a large network of theologians across Europe. Here the book casts in-depth knowledge of, namely, the priesthood, the beauty of divine liturgy (according to Ratzinger), and the adventure of a dialogue with God. A striking comment by Ratzinger is that a priest must above all be able to support people in pain. The “ability to accept and stand suffering is a fundamental condition for successful human living. If that is not learned, then failure is inevitable.” Benedict was well known for his serious commitment and concern towards pastoral care. And Seewald’s extensive inclusion of tapes with Ratzinger make for authoratative reading of the theology. The last third of the book moves into Ratzinger’s role in the Second Vatican Council, in particular the ‘November crisis’ controversy. It ultimately highlights how he’s always tried to unite traditions rather than act as either a conservative or progressive. The Council’s intent and legacy has never been so clear to a lay-reader, and one is baffled at how spiritual clarity can turn into such a Herculean task for the church. But that’s the crux of tradition; it’s apparently worth fighting tooth and nail for. It would take a separate volume entirely to actually understand what really went on there… It’s fair to say, though, in this first volume we see why Ratzinger was arguably the greatest theologian ever to sit on the chair of St. Peter. And I expect the second volume, the road to becoming Pope Benedict XVI and his pontificate, will make for even more compelling reading. But how Seewald will fit it all into a single volume is dramatic enough in and of itself. Whatever the outcome, the satisfaction of a thorough and lengthy biography can certainly be expected.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Richard Grebenc

    What a joy to read! What a fascinating life! I had some familiarity with the life of Benedict through several interview books, his "Milestones" memoirs, and other biographies, but I learned so much more about the man from this volume. His towering intellectual gifts are apparent to the close observer, but how widely they were known and heralded by his contemporaries from very early on and ongoing was news to me. And, while I knew that he was a significant player at Vatican II, his influence on t What a joy to read! What a fascinating life! I had some familiarity with the life of Benedict through several interview books, his "Milestones" memoirs, and other biographies, but I learned so much more about the man from this volume. His towering intellectual gifts are apparent to the close observer, but how widely they were known and heralded by his contemporaries from very early on and ongoing was news to me. And, while I knew that he was a significant player at Vatican II, his influence on the council was astonishing. Fascinating also is how he was perceived by friend and foe alike. This work has gotten me interested in diving into more of his writings as well as interview books I missed, like 'God and the World." I am also very interested to read any of his reports and reflections on Vatican II, now that I realize his impact on it. This is *the* definitive biography of the pope emeritus. I can't wait to dive into volume II, even if it may need to wait until summer. Together, the two tomes add up to a thousand pages of pure delight. Long live Father Benedict, future saint and Doctor of the Church.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Charles Lewis

    I should first say that I'm a huge fan of Pope Benedict XVI. I've read a lot of what he has written. His three volume Jesus of Nazareth is a masterpiece as is his seminal work, Introduction to Christianity. (Side note: it's not really an introduction.) Seewald has been doing Q&A books with PBXVI for years so he's probably the journalist who knows him best. Three areas covered in this. book were critical for anyone trying to understand Benedict's place in modern church history. He grew up under t I should first say that I'm a huge fan of Pope Benedict XVI. I've read a lot of what he has written. His three volume Jesus of Nazareth is a masterpiece as is his seminal work, Introduction to Christianity. (Side note: it's not really an introduction.) Seewald has been doing Q&A books with PBXVI for years so he's probably the journalist who knows him best. Three areas covered in this. book were critical for anyone trying to understand Benedict's place in modern church history. He grew up under the shadow of Nazism. His family was staunchly anti-nazi and that helped shape Benedict's view of godless totalitarianism. As a theologian he was considered almost a radical. His theology was deeply pastoral. He wanted to get away from the legalism that had dominated the church. Finally I knew he was involved in Vatican II but I didn't realize how deep that influence was, given he was only in his mid-30s. I'm now looking forward to Vol. 2 which will be out in the fall.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Steven Baumann

    I am a big advocate of biography despite it falling out of favor among historians. This is an excellent look at a man who turned 95 years old today. This volume takes you from the birth of Joseph Ratzinger through his teenage years as a Bavarian in Nazi Germany to his early successes in writing during the Second Vatican Council. If you don't already know Ratzinger, I think you will find quite a few surprises in the text, most notably his progressivist approach to religion. Ratzinger was a bookis I am a big advocate of biography despite it falling out of favor among historians. This is an excellent look at a man who turned 95 years old today. This volume takes you from the birth of Joseph Ratzinger through his teenage years as a Bavarian in Nazi Germany to his early successes in writing during the Second Vatican Council. If you don't already know Ratzinger, I think you will find quite a few surprises in the text, most notably his progressivist approach to religion. Ratzinger was a bookish student of the world who sought the truth and turned to the written word to find it. I am definitely looking forward to reading the next volumes of this biography.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Brother Gregory Rice

    All-and-all this title kept me glued to the page. There are an embarrassing amount of typos in the translation and there are a few moments that are cringe-inducing where Seewald seems to be towards the end of his tether in terms of speaking with an "insider" knowledge on topics of theological debate. However, his skill in creating a tight grip with narrative pace is evident in creating an enjoyable and holding reading experience. He is clearly a fan of B16 and sometimes his fan mail comes throug All-and-all this title kept me glued to the page. There are an embarrassing amount of typos in the translation and there are a few moments that are cringe-inducing where Seewald seems to be towards the end of his tether in terms of speaking with an "insider" knowledge on topics of theological debate. However, his skill in creating a tight grip with narrative pace is evident in creating an enjoyable and holding reading experience. He is clearly a fan of B16 and sometimes his fan mail comes through more than an objective sense.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    Comprehensive Biography of Pope Benedict This is the first volume of a two volume set on Pope Benedict. The book goes deep into the heart and mind of the former Pope. His upbringing in Germany is covered in depth, and how he became a priest. I was surprised to learn how Benedict played such an important role in Vatican 2. The author paints a positive picture of Benedict. He also seems pro Catholic, which mars the objectivity of the book.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Leonard Heerensperger

    Details of his life from his parents, schooling, NAZI involvement and ecclesiastical details up to and including Vatican II. A man, quiet but confident, devoted to dogma. A perfect introduction to Volume 2 due out this year.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Javier G.-Verdugo

    A great first volume of Ratzinger's life, full of interesting recollections and new insights a about his life, especially the WWII years and those during the II Vatican Council. What an impressive figure! A great first volume of Ratzinger's life, full of interesting recollections and new insights a about his life, especially the WWII years and those during the II Vatican Council. What an impressive figure!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Trevor Smith

    This was an excellent biography. It was fascinating to peer behind the curtain of a man who changed so much of Christian history. As a Protestant looking in, I am impressed at how diverse Catholic positions can be without recourse to denominational splitting.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    Absolutely the best biography I’ve ever read and I’m not even Roman Catholic. I can’t wait for the release of Volume II. I especially enjoyed learning the details and intrigues of Vatican II.

  11. 5 out of 5

    D. Parker Samelson

    Way too long and detailed.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jeanine

    Mr. Seewald is very thorough with biographies. I am currently reading Volume II and it is hard to put down. He is deep on his subjects, as well as the worldly affairs at that moment in time.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Joe A

    A sensational first volume from Peter Seewald on the life of the Pope Emeritus.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Tucker Fleming

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Edgar

  16. 4 out of 5

    Michael

  17. 4 out of 5

    Cornelius Pulung

  18. 5 out of 5

    Josh

  19. 5 out of 5

    David Pinto

  20. 5 out of 5

    Drew

  21. 5 out of 5

    Benjamin

  22. 4 out of 5

    Dan

  23. 5 out of 5

    Timothy Widman

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan M.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Fr. Dominic Rankin

  26. 4 out of 5

    Christopher

  27. 4 out of 5

    Bernadette

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kirsten M

  29. 4 out of 5

    James Tatham

  30. 4 out of 5

    Darius McHenry

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