The Great Reformer

Austen Ivereigh

RRP: £9.99

3 September 2015

Published by Allen & Unwin

ISBN: 9781760113483

RRP: £8.99

1 January 2017

Published by Allen & Unwin

ISBN: 9781925575538

Since his surprise appointment in March 2013, Pope Francis has emerged as the most talked-about and most revolutionary pope in living memory. He has become a subject of fascination, conversation, and headlines not only to the 1.2 billion Catholics in the world, but to virtually everyone. This biography of Pope Francis describes how this revolutionary thinker became who he is, and how he will use the power of his position to challenge and redirect one of the world’s most formidable religions.

Drawing on extensive interviews in Argentina and other countries and now featuring an updated epilogue, The Great Reformer traces the roots of his papacy in Francis’s childhood in Buenos Aires, in his Jesuit training, and in the dramatic events during the Perón era and the military government in Argentina in the 1970s. It shows how these experiences have shaped his beliefs, and with his commitment to the discernment of God’s will, enabled him to challenge and redirect the Church.

Pope Francis was elected in the midst of one of the biggest crises in the Church in modern times. This is the story of a true radical who is transforming the Church by restoring what it has lost.


Richly researched, artfully constructed and consistently compelling.

Invaluable new biography
Daily Telegraph

Invaluable... ought to be read by everyone who wishes to know more about this very singular Pope.
Irish Independent

A gracefully written and meticulously researched account of Francis' life... the best English-language biography of the pope to date.
New York Times Book Review

The most substantial biography by far
The Times

A fine new biography... Fair, judicious and compelling.
The New York Times

A fast-moving and colourful personal analysis of what drives the pontiff, and the many events that have formed his unique and gregarious personality.
The Universe

A must-read for all Pope Francis watchers.
The Tablet

The author has a deft way of mixing recent incidents with his subject's early life... [The pope's] idiosyncratic humanism, forged in a land of political and economic turmoil, seems infectious. This book explains where it comes from.
The Economist

Who is this larger-than-life man leading the charge? What are Francis's origins, how did he come to his beliefs and where is he taking his church? The Great Reformer, a new biography of the man born Jorge Mario Bergoglio, offers an illuminating guide.
Washington Post

Will be useful in understanding the actions of a man whose influence and international importance cannot but grow.

Shows why Pope Francis is not a silly old commie. The author's insights into his Argentine background and hard spiritual road make sense of his rejection of the trappings of power and intellectual elitism.
Spectator, Best Books of 2015

As an English-language account of the Pope's Argentine heritage, this book will be hard to beat.
Catholic Herald