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A Pope and a President: John Paul II, Ronald Reagan, and the Extraordinary Untold Story of the 20th Century (Hardcover)

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Named a World magazine “Book of the Year”!

A Singular Bond That Changed History

Even as historians credit ­Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II with hastening the end of the Cold War, they have failed to recognize the depth or significance of the bond that developed between the two leaders.

Acclaimed scholar and bestselling author Paul Kengor changes that. In this fascinating book, he reveals a singular bond—which included a spiritual connection between the Catholic pope and the Protestant president—that drove the two men to confront what they knew to be the great evil of the twentieth century: Soviet communism.

Reagan and John Paul II almost didn’t have the opportunity to forge this relationship: just six weeks apart in the spring of 1981, they took bullets from would-be assassins. But their strikingly similar near-death experiences brought them close together—to Moscow’s dismay.

A Pope and a President is the product of years of research. Based on Kengor’s tireless archival digging and his unique access to Reagan insiders, the book reveals:

  • The inside story on the 1982 meeting where the president and the pope confided their conviction that God had spared their lives for the purpose of defeating communism
  • Captivating new information on the attempt on John Paul II’s life, including a ­previously unreported secret CIA investigation—was Moscow behind the plot?
  • The many similarities and the spiritual bond between the pope and the president—and how Reagan privately spoke of the “DP”: the Divine Plan to take down communism
  • New details about how the Protestant Reagan became intensely interested in the “secrets of Fátima,” which date to the reported apparitions of the Virgin Mary at Fátima, Portugal, starting on May 13, 1917—­sixty-four years to the day before John Paul II was shot
  • A startling insider account of how the USSR may have been set to invade the pope’s native Poland in March 1981—only to pull back when news broke that Reagan had been shot

Nancy Reagan called John Paul II her husband’s “closest friend”; Reagan himself told Polish visitors that the pope was his “best friend.” When you read this book, you will understand why. As kindred spirits, Ronald Reagan and John Paul II united in pursuit of a supreme objective—and in doing so they changed history.

About the Author


Paul Kengor, PhD, is the New York Times bestselling author of God and Ronald ­Reagan, The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism, 11 Principles of a Reagan Conservative, Dupes, The Communist, and other books. A professor of political science and the executive director of the Center for Vision and Values at Grove City College, he has written for a range of popular and scholarly publications, including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, National Review, Political Science Quarterly, Christianity Today, the National Catholic Register, and the National Catholic Reporter. Kengor has appeared on Fox News, MSNBC, NPR, C-SPAN, and many other outlets. He and his family live in ­Pennsylvania.

Praise For…


Praise for A Pope and a President

“Kengor breaks new ground. He shows the depth of [John Paul II and Reagan’s] friendship (including secret letters shuttled to Rome by New Jersey Democrat Peter Rodino) starting only weeks after both men survived assassination attempts.” —World magazine

“This book superbly captures and perfectly portrays the profound depth of the bond between John Paul II and Ronald Reagan. This is key. You cannot understand why Soviet communism collapsed unless you have a good grasp of just how extraordinarily deep was the bond that existed between those two great leaders of the 20th century. . . . There is a great deal of important and interesting information packed into this very well researched work. It makes a reader appreciate just how fortunate we were to have this particular pope and this particular president at that point in history.” —Washington Times

“Excellent . . . Dr. Kengor’s book is extraordinary in that he is brave enough to trace the importance of religious faith in the story of communism’s downfall. . . . A historical tome that is not only detailed, informative, and educational, but also inspiring and encouraging.” —The Imaginative Conservative



Praise for Paul Kengor

“No Reagan biographer or scholar knows Ronald Reagan and conservatism like Paul Kengor.” —Michael Reagan

“[Kengor] has written the most exhaustive and definitive account of Communism’s twentieth-century assault on America to date.” —Townhall

“Mr. Kengor’s research is prodigious, his analysis keen and insightful, his writing clear, and his work distinguished. His command of the Reagan legacy is incomparable.” —Tony Dolan, chief speechwriter and special assistant to President Reagan

“Kengor makes clear just how central the defeat of the Soviet Union was to Reagan’s personal project.” —National Review

“Combines great story-telling with his commitment to scholarly detail.” —Peter Schweizer, bestselling author of Reagan’s War

“[Kengor provides] more fascinating and never-before-reported details about how Ronald Reagan succeeded than any other Cold War historian. . . . Kengor somehow got his hands on more secret documents than the KGB.” —American Thinker

“Kengor has unearthed eye-popping new information that left me amazed.” —Fred BarnesWeekly Standard

“Provides authoritative insight into Reagan’s campaign to destroy Soviet Communism.” —Richard Pipes, professor of history, emeritus, Harvard University

“Kengor assembles a wealth of material.” —National Catholic Reporter

“There are few historians who are closer students of the Reagan message, his thoughts, his utterances, and his convictions than Paul Kengor.” —William J. Bennett, President Reagan’s secretary of education


Product Details
ISBN: 9781610171434
ISBN-10: 1610171438
Publisher: Intercollegiate Studies Institute
Publication Date: May 1st, 2017
Pages: 648
Language: English