The National Catholic Review

Books

  • August 31-September 7, 2015

    Preparing to enter the Jesuit novitiate in 1868, Gerard Manley Hopkins famously incinerated the poems he had written up to that point. Hopkins later quipped that “brilliancy does not suit us” (i.e., Jesuits), a lapidary distillation of the tension he and others have seen between deploying one’s talents (particularly artistic talents) and heeding a call to communion with God in religious life.

  • August 31-September 7, 2015

    Pope Francis’ announcement that he will canonize the Franciscan missionary Junípero Serra, founder and father president of the mission system of Alta California from 1769 to his death in 1784, has fortuitously coincided with the recent appearance of three biographies of this controversial figure: Steven W.

  • August 31-September 7, 2015

    Masha Gessen has written a thought-provoking and disturbing book about the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013 and those deemed responsible, the brothers Tamerlan and Jahar Tsarnaev. This topic must have been particularly compelling for her as someone who came to the Boston area from the Soviet Union as a girl and upon adulthood spent 20 years as a journalist covering post-Communist Russia, with special attention to the violence in the Caucasus.

  • August 17-24, 2015

    Thomas Cromwell stands out after Henry VIII himself as the most prominent figure in the Henrician Reformation of the 1530s. Tracy Borman recounts persuasively and engagingly the tale of the meteoric rise of this complex commoner to the highest offices and dominant influence at the court of Henry and his just as meteoric fall from grace and execution.

  • August 17-24, 2015

    Eugene Gladstone O’Neill never wanted for adversity or drama. The neglected offspring of a detached but overbearing father and a sullen, morphine-addicted mother, he was marked in adult life by alcohol-fueled depression, tempestuous serial romances and bouts of misogynistic rage. Yet according to Robert M.

  • August 17-24, 2015

    The influence of a particular pope lingers on long after that particular pope has died or resigned. The pope most often cited in the documents of Vatican II, for instance, was Pius XII. Similarly the influence of Joseph Ratzinger—Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI—will endure far beyond his life time. Reportedly, towards the end of his papacy Benedict considered his theological writings far more important and enduring than whatever he might have been able to...

  • August 3-10, 2015

    Brian Moynahan, a former foreign correspondent for The Sunday Times (in London) and the author of numerous books, including three on the Soviet Union, has written a fine study of the city of Leningrad’s terrible trials from 1934 to 1942 at the hands of two tyrants, Adolph Hitler and Josef Stalin.

  • August 3-10, 2015

    After toiling in the trenches of the American criminal justice system for half a century, I had long abandoned any illusions that criminal justice policy is the product of rational analysis. But I saw faint glimmers of hope in recent measures ameliorating harsh drug laws. President Obama’s Fair Sentencing Act reduced the ratio between crack and powder cocaine for purposes of federal mandatory minimum sentences from the ridiculous 100 to 1 down to the...

  • August 3-10, 2015

    American ideals of social equality are taken from Greco-Roman political philosophy. Christian other-worldliness caused the fall of the Roman Empire. The form of government favored by the medieval ecclesiastical elite was theocracy. Western individualism originates in the Renaissance.

  • July 20-27, 2015

    Few foreigners have captured the American imagination quite like the Marquis de Lafayette, the French-born aristocrat who became a hero of the American Revolution and protégé of General George Washington. Across America, his fame is immortalized in the more than 600 cities, towns, villages, counties, squares, parks, ships and submarines named after him. In homage to him, even American pilots volunteering to fly for France in World War I proudly called...