Latest Issue: 18 October 2014
18 October 2014
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16 October 2014 by John W. O’Malley SJ, reviewed by Hilmar M. Pabel

This year marks the 200th anniversary of the restoration of the Society of Jesus. In 1773, under intense pressure from Catholic European monarchs, Pope Clement XIV suppressed the prestigious but also much maligned religious order “for the peace and tranquillity of the Church”.

16 October 2014 by Andrew Borowiec, reviewed by Denis MacShane

The first fighting in the Second World War happened on Polish soil and continued there into April 1945. Poland was invaded first by Nazi Germany and then by Communist Russia.

16 October 2014 by John Boyn, reviewed by Mary Kenny

John Boyne is the successful author of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, a story essentially for younger readers which made a compelling movie, starring David Thewlis as a beastly Nazi running a concentration camp and satisfyingly punished at the culmination of the film.

16 October 2014 by Stephen Schloesser, reviewed by Peter Quantrill

“I don’t belong to my era,” cried Olivier Messiaen in 1979, but he did, as we all do, whether he liked it or not. During his lifetime, biographers tended to take him at his own estimation.

Previous issues

09 October 2014 by Adrian Goldsworthy, reviewed by Noonie Minogue

Few dictators have filled the latter years of their rule with quite such a perfume of peace, prosperity and good governance as Augustus, whose second millennial celebrations have rumbled on throughout this year.

09 October 2014 by Bernardine Bishop, reviewed by Patrick West

Bernardine Bishop died last year from a long illness, so it’s unsurprising that this posthumous novel is concerned with the themes of death and fate.

09 October 2014 by Rory MacLean, reviewed by Robert Carver

Spirit of place is a difficult essence to distil. Many excellent travel writers fail – for them the journey, the sensations of movement are paramount.

09 October 2014 by Bernard McGinn, reviewed by Alban McCoy

St thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologiae is a masterpiece of systematisation, universally acknowledged as the finest example of what was a relatively new literary form that had emerged in the late twelfth century.

02 October 2014 by Garry Wills, reviewed by Clare Asquith

How did she do it? Illegitimate, excommunicated, head of a disputed national Church, and, worst of all, a single woman – Elizabeth’s survival on the English throne for 45 years is one of the most remarkable political balancing acts of history.

02 October 2014 by Kerry Brown, reviewed by Simon Scott Plummer

In late 2012 the BBC ran in parallel two stories of major significance: the American presidential election and the emergence of the new Standing Committee of the Politburo of the Chinese Communist Party.

02 October 2014 by Brigid Allen, reviewed by Ian Thomson

Born in suburban Middlesex in 1931, the poet and classical scholar Peter Levi is somewhat forgotten today, which is a shame. His father, Bert Levi, had Sephardic ancestors who sold carpets in Constantinople. In 1928 his devoutly Catholic mother, Mollie, had persuaded Bert to convert.

02 October 2014 by Marilynne Robinson, reviewed by Peter Stanford

Marilynne Robinson’s exquisite, peerless novels are about nothing and everything. There is no one quite like this American writer, or quite as good as her.

25 September 2014 by A.N. Wilson, reviewed by Roy Hattersley

Queen Victoria is one of the figures from British history about whom most people know something but few people know very much. She has come to personify what is popularly regarded as a golden age of imperial glory and economic supremacy.

25 September 2014 by David Martin, reviewed by Rowan Williams

David martin does not believe in “religion”; that is, he does not think that religious belief, practice and speech can be reduced to a neat corpus of essentials that can be treated as a discrete form of human activity.

25 September 2014 by Paul M. Cobb, reviewed by Peter Jackson

In general – and increasingly over the past four decades – scholarship has tended to view the Crusades as above all an important element of medieval European history.

25 September 2014 by Ian McEwan, reviewed by Brendan Walsh

It will drive you up the wall, but do try to read this cracking novel.

25 September 2014 by Judith Wolfe

“Paths not works” was the motto Martin Heidegger chose for the collected edition of his writings, and he elsewhere remarked that “paths of thought bear in them the mystery that we can walk them forward and backward – indeed the way backward alone leads forward.”

25 September 2014 by Desmond Tutu and Mpho Tutu. Read by Hakeem Kae Kazim and Mpho Tutu. Reviewed by Julian Margaret Gibbs

Who better to write about forgiveness than Desmond Tutu, head of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, partially responsible for South Africa’s transition to peaceful racial co-existence after apartheid?

18 September 2014 by Karen Armstrong, reviewed by Scott Appleby

“Religion is the cause of today’s most vexing social problems, not least the plague of deadly violence gripping the planet.”

18 September 2014 by Muriel Spark, edited by Penelope Jardine

In an interview with an Italian newspaper in 2003, Muriel Spark observed: “It is my aim always to give pleasure.” And she did: is there anyone who isn’t captivated by her first (and best) novel, The Comforters?

18 September 2014 by Rowan Williams, reviewed by Graham Kings

Although Rowan Williams is sometimes accused of being “never knowingly understood”, this introduction to the basics of Christianity, emanating from his Holy Week talks to the people of his diocese in Canterbury Cathedral, is crisp and lucid.

18 September 2014 by Martin Amis, reviewed by Emma Hughes

Even his staunchest admirers would concede that Martin Amis has dropped some clangers over the years. But Time’s Arrow, his novel exploring the Final Solution, wasn’t one of them.