Well, now I'm finished reading "Benedict XVI: An Intimate Portrait," and I'm exhausted but very, very satisfied!
"Intimate Portrait" is not just about the Pope but also about the author's journey back into the Church. The book chronicles the author's extensive research not only on Benedict's personal background but also a crash course on catholicism and Ratzinger's theology, if he were to interview the then Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith and not appear stupid. And what a ride! The author even had a sample taste of personal sacrifices and a bit of the dark night of the soul! Bottom line: Coming home to the Church.
The fact that both the author and his subject are German reflects a kind of intimacy from the very start. Seewald had the temerity to throw some unimaginable (for a journalist) hard-ball questions and Ratzinger answered them with calmness, clarity, humor, kindness and love.
Everything I liked about our Pope is there - his "dictatorship of relativism" homily just before the start of the conclave, his election to the Chair of Peter, his World Youth Day boatride on the Rhine while thousands of young people waded in the water, his controversial Regensburg lecture, his visit to Turkey that earned him the title, "Benedict the Brave," and much, much more. Seewald personalized them and I shared all that he saw and felt.
However, "Intimate Portrait" is not in an interview Q and A format, but rather an indepth, balance (critics and supporters given equal opportunity to weigh in), and ultimately sympathetic narrative. The story of how "Salt of the Earth" and "God and the World" came about, along with a slice of Benedictine monastery life make "Benedict XVI: An Intimate Portrait" doubly enjoyable to read.
Being a huge Seewald fan, how could I have missed "Intimate Portrait" when it first came out? It was published in 2007, but I heard nothing of the author's other books after "God and the World."
I highly recommend "Benedict xvi: Intimate Portrait." And now I'm ready for Seewald's new book, "Light of the World."