The National Catholic Review

Books

Pages

  • February 22, 2016

    What is truth? said jesting Pilate, and would not stay for an answer.

    –Francis Bacon

    In The Age of the Crisis of Man , Mark Greif sets himself the ambitious and “historically indispensable” task, a “philosophical history” focusing on a crisis in determining what is man and what he faces (I use Greif’s “man” for human). “The midcentury generation’s way of addressing the crisis of man...

  • February 22, 2016

    The Dalai Lama, though a devout Buddhist monk himself, declared recently that religion alone is no longer adequate as a basis for ethics and that the time has come for a new secular way to think about ethics and spirituality.

    Stephen Batchelor follows this line of thinking in his new book, After Buddhism . Batchelor identifies himself as a product of a Protestant Christian culture, as well as an atheistic culture. He spent...

  • February 22, 2016

    Ralph Watkins, a theologian and photographer at Columbia Theological Seminary, noted recently in a conversation on the arts and activism that photographers are both creators and curators, artists who capture what might otherwise be unseen and then design visual experiences intended to move people. Two collections by Jesuit photographers from different eras and contexts reflect Watkins’s wisdom about the social and moral power of the photographer....

  • February 15, 2016

    This story really begins with Will Eisner, who grew up poor and Jewish in the 1920s and in pre-War, Depression-era Brooklyn. Eisner published what’s generally considered the first graphic novel, A Contract With God , in 1978. He also coined the term “sequential art”—which helps to explain to some of us how comic books became graphic novels. Eisner taught a course on sequential art for years at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Before that, in 1940,...

  • February 15, 2016

    As cancer ravaged her father’s once-strong body, Ann Neumann did her best to at least give him a “good death.” She hoped that he could exit life at home, surrounded by family, free of pain. She became his full-time caregiver in an effort to make it so. Then his pain grew so intractable that Neumann rushed him to a hospice facility. He twisted in agony until stronger drugs took hold, and then he died.

    Neumann was left haunted...

  • February 15, 2016

    More is better in the land of Trump, even in the literary world. Our novelists garnering large advances and recognition write hefty novels chock-full of virtuosic sentences, one after the next. The result can be numbing. Glimmers of truth are obscured by pyrotechnic wordplay, making readers, at least readers like me, feel they are not smart enough to keep up.

    Not so reading Peter Stamm, the excellent Swiss novelist and short-...

  • February 8, 2016

    By reputation, Simone Weil is a writer about whom we cannot think apart from her body: the starvation that ushered in Weil’s tragic demise at age 34; her refusal to indulge in sugar as a young child during wartime privations; the horrible outfits; “her homeliness, her physical clumsiness, her migraines, her tuberculosis” (to draw from Susan Sontag’s famous litany). “By the age of fourteen,” Mona Ouzouf wrote, “she had achieved beyond her wildest dreams her...

  • February 8, 2016

    Paris lay inert, her breathing scarcely audible, her limbs relaxed, and the blood flowed remorsefully from her manifold veins. Paris was dying, like a beautiful woman in coma, not knowing or asking why.

    The voice is that of Eric Sevareid, a CBS News foreign correspondent, who has sent his wife and twin infant sons back to the United States while he and a team of reporters remain to risk their lives and make journalism...

  • February 8, 2016

    On Sept. 29, 1888, 18-year-old Mohandas K. Gandhi, traveling alone from India, disembarked in England to begin his study of law at London’s Inner Temple. The rail-thin young man had only one goal in mind: to support himself and his pregnant young wife back home. Upon completing his legal education three years later, the aspiring barrister returned home, where he struggled to set up his practice. Still so shy he could barely speak in public, he was fortunate...

  • February 1, 2016

    Two decades ago Israel stood on the verge of completing a peace process that promised to end years of fighting with its neighbors and the Palestinians. But the prospect of exchanging land for peace deeply divided Israel into two roughly equal camps pulling in opposite directions—one secular, the other religious. As Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who commanded the army that brought Gaza and the West Bank under Israel’s control in the 1967 Six Day War, had the...