August 26, 2007

Book recommendation...

I've been reading an excellent book, The President, the Pope, and the Prime Minister: Three Who Changed the World, by John O'Sullivan. It's about Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and Karol Wojtyla, the future John Paul II, and how they cooperated in bringing about the downfall of the Soviet Progressive Empire...

...All three [in the early 1970's] were plainly at or near the peak of their careers. And those peaks were tantalizingly short of the very top.

It was not hard for any intelligent observer to explain why these three, with such high abilities, had obtained only limited success. All three were handicapped by being too sharp, clear, and definite in an age of increasingly fluid identities and sophisticated doubts. Put simply, Wojtyla was too Catholic, Thatcher too conservative, and Reagan too American.

These qualities might not have been disadvantages in times of greater confidence in Western civilization—or in moments of grave crisis such as 1940 in Britain, or 1941 in America, or in sixteenth-century Rome—when people prefer their leaders to be lions rather than foxes. But 1970 was two years after the revolutionary annus mirabilis of 1968. It was a time when historical currents seemed to be smoothly bearing mankind, including the Catholic Church, Britain, and America, in an undeniably liberal and even progressive direction....

Wojtyla, by the way is pronounced voy-TEE-wah, Krak�w is KRA-koov. I always find it maddening when a book includes foreign words without giving one the pronunciation. Fortunately I have George Weigel's splendid book on John Paul II, Witness to Hope, which has a nice guide to pronouncing Polish.

Posted by John Weidner at August 26, 2007 7:27 AM

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