SPIRITED THINKING SINCE 1888
Books
February 18, 2016
Staff writers
Tales from the Vatican Vaults edited by David V Barrett (Robinson, £9.99). This is a fascinating and enjoyable collection of short stories by different authors, all based on the (alternative reality) premise that Pope John Paul I did not die a month after his accession but instead reformed the Vatican and opened up its ‘‘secret
February 11, 2016
Charlie Hegarty
The Vanishing Man by Laura Cumming Chatto and Windus, £19 Laura Cumming, art critic of The Observer, has written a book full of interest and passion. The interest comes from the art world between the 17th and 19th century: a place full of neglected old masters, lost paintings, the art trade, auctions and aristocratic wills.
February 11, 2016
Staff writers
As Strangers Here by Janet McNeill (Turnpike Books, £12). First published in 1960 and now republished in a paperback edition, this novel about a 1950s Belfast clergyman, Edward Ballater, records with sensitivity and honesty the human frailties and temptations behind the public role, We discover Ballater’s doubts about his faith, frustrations in his marriage and
February 11, 2016
Jonathan Wright
Democracy, Culture, Catholicism Edited by Michael Schuck and John Crowley-Buck Fordham, £25 During the Soviet era, Lithuania’s Catholic churches were turned into cinemas and museums, priests were deported and religious symbols were banished from the public sphere. The faithful were left with a perilously “narrow space”. And yet Catholicism remained the “main social resource for
February 11, 2016
Francis Phillips
Everyday Saints and Other Stories by Archimandrite Tikhon (trans by Julian Henry Lowenfeld) Pokrov Publications, £20 First published in Russia in 2011, this book, despite its unlikely title, has been consistently at the top of the country’s bestseller lists. This tells you something about Russia. Although officially atheist for more than 70 years following the
February 04, 2016
Staff writers
Agents of Empire by Noel Malcolm (Allen Lane, £30). This extraordinarily wide-ranging volume uses the forgotten tales of the Bruti and Bruni families to shed light on the complex relationship between Christian Europe and the Ottoman Empire during the early modern period. Members of these two families, from Venetian-held territories, served as secret agents, merchants,
February 04, 2016
James Butler
The Land of the Green Man by Carolyne Larrington IB Tauris, £20 Black Vaughan, still riding the countryside at night with his pack of howling, red-eyed hounds. Jenny Greenteeth, lurking in the weed-choked depths of ponds, on the look-out for heedless children. Fairies, knockers, bogarts and banshees. All find their place in Carolyne Larrington’s scholarly
February 04, 2016
Jonathan Wright
Ireland and Vatican II Edited by Niall Coll Columba Press, £14.99 In his introduction, editor Niall Coll observes that “many Irish Catholics are only beginning to awaken” to the full significance of Vatican II. Reception of the Council’s teachings has, he suggests, been slow: perhaps because Irish Catholics “have never stood out traditionally in terms
February 04, 2016
Jack Carrigan
God or Nothing by Cardinal Robert Sarah Ignatius, £12.99 I would bet that many Catholics in the West had not heard of Cardinal Sarah of Guinea before the family synod in October. Then his name kept cropping up, dispelling the disquiet many of us felt over the Church, when we heard his voice: strong, wise
January 28, 2016
Staff writers
Family and Life by Pope Francis (Alban Books, £9.99). These “pastoral reflections”, selected by the Pontifical Council for the Family, are taken from the years 1998-2013, when the Pope was Archbishop of Buenos Aires. They show how closely the Pope today echoes his past preaching. On topics such as abortion, raising children, divorce and same-sex
January 28, 2016
Charlie Hegarty
Hitler at Home by Despina Stratigakos Yale, £20 The author, an architectural historian, has chosen to make a detailed investigation of an aspect of Hitler’s life not much known about: his domestic arrangements in Munich, where he lived between 1920 and 1929; in the Chancellery in Berlin; and at the Berghof, a chalet in the
January 28, 2016
Patrick West
The Irish in Manchester: 1750-1921 by Mervyn Busteed Manchester University Press, £75 The mass influx of Irish into Britain in the middle of the 19th century provoked what journalists today would call a “moral panic”. Indeed, the inundation aroused fears that still resonate. Like modern-day Eastern Europeans, the Irish were accused of under-cutting the wages of
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