Thomas Merton did not choose to keep his most personal writing secret. He provided for his diaries to be released 25 years after his death. This biography combines the details of those diaries with the more widely known and published circumstances of his life. This is the biography that tells, for the first time, of Thomas Merton as he wanted us to know him. Here we meet Merton, first as Tom, then as Thomas Merton, the writer both before and after The Seven Storey Mountain. We see the all too human fellow traveler we have come to know as he climbs the final mountain of his life. Within these pages Merton reveals his hopes and his dreams against the backdrop of an incredibly turbulent period of social change that both frightened and energized him. We witness his love of the rich Cistercian tradition and his adjustment to its evolving practices following Vatican II. Here he interacts with some of the most notable international figures of his time, and he confides to us the difficulties he had in everyday relationships. He chose to be remembered as a monk who was only too human, determined that his most human faults should be revealed. He wanted his readers to believe that the principles he espoused are in fact practicable for anyone, not just those who live like a saint. He proved he had flaws by carefully recording them. It was a most generous gift. This is the first biography that goes beyond the public 'Thomas Merton' by presenting a detailed picture, with photographs and other illustrations never before published in other works.