The Divine Plan: John Paul II, Ronald Reagan, and the Dramatic End of the Cold War


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“Pope St John Paul II and Ronald Reagan were preserved through this suffering for a high purpose. I don’t think you’ll understand either one of them without understanding that.” -Bishop Robert Barron in The Divine Plan

Just six weeks apart in the spring of 1981, Pope St John Paul II and President Ronald Reagan took bullets from would-be assassins. Few knew it at the time, but both men came close to dying. Surviving these near-death experiences created a singular bond between the Pope and the President that historians have failed to appreciate. When St John Paul II and Reagan met in the Vatican only a year later, they confided to each other a shared conviction: that God had spared their lives for a reason.

In this follow-up to Paul Kengor’s acclaimed bestseller A Pope and a President, Kengor teams up with writer-director Robert Orlando to shed new light on the extraordinary bond between John Paul II and Ronald Reagan, and how that bond drove the pope and the president to confront communism.

Shorter and more focused than A Pope and a President, The Divine Plan also boasts an even greater range of authorities to fill in the picture. Kengor and Orlando interview more than a dozen experts, including well-known historians Douglas Brinkley, H. W. Brands, Anne Applebaum, John O’Sullivan, and Craig Shirley; the leading biographer of St John Paul II, George Weigel; close Reagan adviser Richard V. Allen; and Cardinal Timothy Dolan and Bishop Robert Barron.