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Part Two of "The Best Books I Read in 2007..." | Ignatius Press Authors, Editors, and Staff | Part One
Miesel is a Catholic journalist, medieval
historian, and co-author of The Pied Piper of Atheism and the best-selling
Da Vinci Hoax. She holds masters degrees in biochemistry and
medieval history from the University of Illinois. Since 1983, she has written
hundreds of articles for the Catholic press, chiefly on history, art, and
hagiography. Sandra has spoken at religious
and academic conferences, appeared on EWTN, and given numerous radio interviews.
Outside the Catholic sphere, she has also written, analyzed, and edited
fiction. Sandra and her late husband John raised three children.
Magic and Superstition in Europe: A Concise History from Antiquity to the Present, by Michael D. Bailey. Accurate and
up-to-date as well as concise.
Witches and Witch-Hunts,
by Wolfgang Behringer. Best recent survey of the subject.
Mouse and His Child,
by Russell Hoban. A richly philosophical children's classic.
Philosophy of Tolkien, by Peter Kreeft. A spoonful of Middle-earth sugar makes the philosophy go down.
An Experiment In Criticism, by C.S. Lewis. An admirable model for critics.
Preface to Paradise Lost, by C.S. Lewis. An excellent
antidote to Philip Pullman.
The Place of Enchantment: British Occultism and the Culture of the Modern, by Alex Owen. Good cultural history
from a feminist perspective.
Planet Narnia, by Michael
Ward. An exciting and persuasive new interpretation of the Chronicles in terms
of planetary symbolism.
Away From Her
Into Great Silence
The Lives of Others
George Neumayr, the editor of Catholic
I picked up
this year Malcolm Muggeridge's two-volume autobiography, Chronicles of
Wasted Time, and enjoyed it very much. It is a
consistently funny and perceptive account of the twentieth century's
intellectual and moral misadventures, many of which Muggeridge either directly
observed or joined. His critics thought two volumes a lot of space to devote to
wasted time, but they are worth it: his "wasted time" contained
moments of epiphany and experience that compounded over the decades and
culminated in his conversion to Catholicism.
O'Brien, born in Ottawa, Canada, in 1948
is a self-taught painter and writer. Both his written work and visual art
have been reviewed and reproduced widely. He is an author of several books,
notably his seven volume Children of the Last Days series of novels,
including Father Elijah, A Cry of Stone, and Sophia House.
He is also the author of A Landscape With Dragons, an examination
of the phenomenon of contemporary pagan influence in children's culture.
Visit his IgnatiusInsight.com author
page for a full listing of his books published by Ignatius Press.
Before I Go, by Peter Kreeft
(Sheed and Ward, 2007). Meditations and whimsical insights compiled as a kind
of legacy of mind, heart, and soul to the author's children and
grandchildren...and to the coming generations.
Virtuous Leadership, by
Alexandre Havard (Scepter Press, 2007). The author is a French-Russian jurist
and professor of Law, a devout Catholic. In this book he applies principles of
Catholic ethics and spirituality to the public life—business and
politics, indeed any position of authority.
Private Revelation: Discerning with the Mind of the Church, by Dr. Mark Miravalle (Queenship
Publishing, 2007). A clear, concise, and urgently needed tool for discerning
mystical phenomena within the Church.
The Three Ys Men, by
Joseph Pearce (St Austin Press, 1998). A delightful tale of three spirits and
an author in Sussex, whose various perspectives reveal the lost gifts of the
past, the choices we face in the present, and possibilities for the future. The
Pearceonian wit and literary acrobatics give a freshness and immediacy to the
Bridge on the Drina,
by Ivo Andric, a novel that chronicles the "life" of a bridge and a
town in Bosnia, including its Serb, Croat, Muslim, Turkish, Jewish, and
Austrian residents. First published in 1946, this book has become a classic,
beloved by (amazingly) all peoples of former Yugoslavia--and throughout the
Some old and beloved favorites re-read this year:
The Pied Piper, a novel by Neville Shute.
Gift from the Sea, by
Anne Morrow Lindbergh. Gentle, thoughtful, wise meditations on life,
motherhood, womanhood, time.
Russia and the Universal Church, by Vladimir Solovyev.
Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order, by William Engdahl (revised edition
2004). I've reread this book three or four times during the past few years. It
has reshaped my understanding of recent history, and much that is occurring in
current international conflicts and global economy.
E. Olson is the editor of IgnatiusInsight.com.
He is author of Will Catholics Be "Left
Behind"? A Catholic Critique of the Rapture and Todays Prophecy Preachers (Ignatius
Press, 2003), recognized by the Associated Press as one of the best
religious titles of 2003, and co-author, with medievalist Sandra Miesel,
Da Vinci Hoax: Exposing the Errors in The Da Vinci Code (Ignatius,
2004). Carl has written for numerous Catholic periodicals and is a regular
contributor to Our Sunday Visitor and National Catholic Register.
A former Evangelical Protestant, he has a Masters in Theological Studies
from the University of Dallas. Carl lives in Oregon with his wife and two children.
Like Mark Brumley, I also hesitate to list Ignatius Press books. However, a few
that stand out to me from 2007 (many of them, alas, only partially read) are
Lovely Like Jerusalem, by Aidan Nichols, O.P., Ronald
Knox As Apologist by Milton Walsh, Pope Benedict
XVI: The Conscience of Our Age by D. Vincent Twomey,
In The Light of Christ, by Lucy Beckett,
Chance or Purpose? by Christoph Cardinal Schönborn, and
Jesus, The Apostles, and the Early
Church, by Pope Benedict XVI.
Jesus of Nazareth, by Pope Benedict XVI.
Anyone wishing to know more about Jesus and the mind and heart of the Holy Father should start here.
The Priority of Christ: Toward a Postliberal Catholicism, by Robert Barron. An impressive and
engaging book that contains many edifying insights into theology, spirituality,
Defending Life: A Moral and Legal Case Against Abortion Choice, by Francis J. Beckwith. A thorough, judicious
work that reveals the numerous philosophical flaws within the entire
spectrum of pro-abortion arguments.
Culture Counts, by Roger
Scruton. As a I wrote in a review for Saint Austin Review, Scruton's book "is a
work that vigorously addresses the essential points and draws emphatic, but
careful, lines in the sand."
Small Is Still Beautiful,
by Joseph Pearce. A book that dares to ask questions about the meaning of life,
politics, and economics that few dare to ask, let alone address, and does so
with Pearce's usual clarity and effortless style.
A Different Kind of Teacher, by John Taylor Gatto. A former public school teacher, author of
Dumbing Us Down and other books, offers more evidence for the failure of public education and
arguments for approaching learning in ways that are both new and traditional.
An Unsuitable Job For a Woman, by P.D. James. My first James novel, but certainly not my
There Is A God, by
Antony Flew, with Roy Abraham Varghese. An intriguing combination of memoir and
apologia, especially helpful for those who want a good introduction to the key issues in the debates between theism and atheism.
The Rough Guide to Jazz,
by Ian Carr, Digby Fairweather, and Brian Priestley. Not as thorough or
consistent as the Penguin Guide, but filled with great info and written from
the perspective of musicians, not critics.
A Student's Guide to Music History, by R.J. Stove. Part of the ISI Guides to the Major
Disciplines series, this is pithy (135 pages), rollicking, and informative, concentrating on
The Old House of Fear, by Russell Kirk. I've read numerous books by Kirk but this is the first work of
his fiction that I've picked up. A fast-moving combination of Gothic, mystery, and thriller.
Reasons for Our Rhymes: An Inquiry into the Philosophy of History, by R. A. Herrera. A very well-written
and fascinating overview of different philosophical perspectives on the meaning
of history. Worth reading just for the chapter on Joachim of Fiore.
Sovereign, by C.J. Sansom. Set in Tudor England,
1541, this mystery/historical novel offers a tense and well-researched journey
into the deadly challenges faced by Catholics (and others) under Henry XIII.
Fabricating Jesus: How Modern Scholars Distort the Gospels, by Craig A. Evans. A helpful guide to
the world of modern biblical scholarship, written by a leading Evangelical
professor of New Testament studies. Three other fine books along the same lines
are Reinventing Jesus, by Komoszewski, Sawyer, and Wallace, The Jesus Legend, by Paul Rhodes Eddy and Gregory A.
Boyd, and Misquoting Jesus, by Timothy Paul Jones.
Sanctifying the World: The Augustinan Life and Mind of Christopher Dawson, by Bradley J. Birzer. I just started
reading it a few days ago, but am already impressed this well-researched and
much needed book about one of the finest Catholic historians of the past
Pearce has firmly established himself as
the premier literary biographer of our time, especially in interpreting
the spiritual depths of the Catholic literary tradition. He is the author
of acclaimed biographies of G.K. Chesterton, Oscar Wilde, Hilaire Belloc,
and J.R.R. Tolkien, and books on English literature and literary converts.
He is Writer-in-Residence and Associate Professor of Literature at Ave Maria
University in Naples, Florida, and is the Co-Editor of the St. Austin
Review and the Editor-in-Chief of Sapientia
Press. Visit his IgnatiusInsight.com
author page for more about his work and a full listing of his books
published by Ignatius Press.
Thrill of the Chaste: Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Your Clothes On, by Dawn Eden (Thomas Nelson, 2006).
The title says it all! Dawn Eden exposes the naked truth of sexual secularism.
God is No Delusion: A Refutation of
Richard Dawkins, by Thomas Crean O.P. (Ignatius, 2007). A superb exposé of the ignorance and bigotry of Dawkins and his ilk.
Londonistan, by Melanie Phillips (Encounter Books,
2006). Demolishes the myth of mutli-culturalism and highlights the
Islamo-menace that threatens to engulf England.
Tower of Shadows,
by Drew C. Bowling (Ballantine Books, 2006). An exceptional debut novel in the
Tolkienian mode by a promising young author.
Good, Jeeves!, by
P.G. Wodehouse (Overlook Press edn., 2005, originally published in 1930).
Wodehouse is a delight and I concur with the jdgement of Belloc and Waugh that
he is perhaps the finest comic writer in the English language. The British
television dramatisation of some of these stories starring Stephen Fry and Hugh
Laurie is also hilarious.
Island of the World, by
Michael D. O'Brien (Ignatius, 2007). O'Brien continues to astonish me with the
sheer genius of his imagination. Another exceptional novel from his gifted pen.
Evolution of Tolkien's Mythology, by Elizabeth A. Whittingham (McFarland and Company, 2007). A
good and solid addition to the burgeoning field of Tolkien studies. Whittingham
doesn't plumb the depths, nor does she offer many incisive new insights, but
she does reiterate much that needs reiterating!
edited by Michael D. Drout (Taylor and Francis, 2006). A solid and much needed
addition to the above-mentioned burgeoning of Tolkien scholarship. Eight
hundred pages on all aspects of the man and his work. A must for any serious
Tolkien scholar, though at nearly $200 it requires a great pecuniary sacrifice
to add it to one's library!
Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume 3, edited by Walter Hooper (HarperCollins, 2007). The third
volume of Lewis's letters. An invaluable resource for Lewis scholars but also a
sheer enjoyment to read for fun, as is everything from the pen of Lewis.
Peter Milward S.J. (Sapientia Press, 2007). Father Milward is a former student
of C.S. Lewis at Oxford, and it shows! Milward's critical approach to
Shakespeare's plays is often provocative and always thought-provoking.
Life and Times of William Shakespeare 1564-1616, by Hildegard Hammerschmidt-Hummel
(Chaucer Press, 2007). This book has all the full-colour visual panache of a
coffee-table book and all the solid gravitas of exceptional scholarship. A
Gerard: The Autobiography of an Elizabethan, translated from the Latin by Philip
Caraman S.J. (Family Publicaitons, 2006). Family Publications are to be warmly
congratulated for republishing the autobiography of Father Gerard, one of the
heroes of the Jesuit underground which fought so heroically to save England's
soul from the debauch of the Reformation.
Campion: Memory and Transcription, by Gerard Kilroy (Ashgate Publishing, 2005). This reads like a
scholarly tract, which is to say that it sputters along falteringly and does
not make for easy reading. Nonetheless, a new book on the great Jesuit martyr
is most welcome.
Coasts of the Country: A Treasury of Medieval English Devotional Literature, edited by Clare Kirchberger (Roman
Catholic Books, 2007). A real treasure chest of the best of English medieval
of Catholic Social Thought, Social Science, and Social Policy (2 vols.) edited by Coulter, Krason,
Myers & Varacalli (Scarecrow Press, 2007). The second encyclopedia on my
list but I make no apology for the apparent aridity of my selection. This two
volume gem is a veritable ediface of Catholic scholarship; a must for anyone
who really wants to understand the social teaching of the Church.
The Night is Far Spent: A Treasury of
Thomas Howard, by Thomas Howard (Ignatius, 2007).
Perhaps I've saved the best for last. I can't get enough of Thomas Howard and
this treasury of some of his best work is a real treat.
has doctoral degrees in canon and civil law. He currently holds the Edmund
Cardinal Szoka Chair at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, Michigan.
He has authored or edited several books and is the translator of the English
edition of The
1917 Pio Benedictine Code of Canon Law. His most recent book is Excommunication and the
Catholic Church (Ascension Press, 2006. Read IgnatiusInsight.com interview here.)
His canon law website can be found at www.canonlaw.info.
Here is my list of Top 12 books I've read this past year:
Eugenics and Other Evils (1922), by Chesterton.
The Early Liturgy (1949), by Jungmann (Brummer trans.)
Becket ou l'Honneur de Dieu (1958), by Anouilh.
What is Marriage? (1982), by Mackin.
De Sanctionibus in Ecclesia (1986), by de Paolis.
Phrases: a Latin theological dictionary (1998), by Bretzke.
"The Story of Human Language"
(CD lectures, 2004), by McWhorter.
El Derecho de la Iglesia: curso basico (2005), by Cenlamor & Miras.
Linguistics of American Sign Language (2005), by Valli.
And the Journey Begins (2005), by Axelrod.
Medieval Church Law and the Origins of the Western Legal Tradition (2006), by Müller & Sommar.
Life Issues, Medical Choices (2006), by Smith & Kazor.
Personally, I encourage intellectuals to keep, and publish, a list of works studied year by
year. Here is mine as an example.
Russell Shaw is the author of eighteen books and is the former information director of the National
Conference of Catholic Bishops/United States Catholic Conference and Knights of Columbus. He is also a member of the Equestrian
Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, the father of five and the grandfather of nine. He is the co-author, with Fr. C. John McCloskey,
of Good News, Bad News: Evangelization, Conversion
and the Crisis of Faith.
The three best books I read in 2007 were Father and Son by Edmund Gosse, Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh, and a collection
of short stories by Anton Chekhov.
memoir of growing up a religious fanatic is a beautifully written account of
his relationship with his father, a decent, intelligent man who also happened
to be a member of a fundamentalist sect whose doctrines he was intent on
imposing upon his son. By implication, it is also a remarkably astute chronicle
of the early post-Christian age in the West.
coincidence, I read Waugh's novel just before reading Pope Benedict's encycical
Spe Salvi. It was
excellent preparation for the Pope's discussion of the crisis of hope in the
West. Published in 1930 and one of Waugh's early, pre-Catholic works, it
concerns the frantic and absurd doings of England's Bright Young People in the
years between two World Wars. Beneath its brilliant, seemingly frivolous
surface, it is a profoundly serious portrait of people without hope.
It would be
pointless to praise Chekhov's tales. A story like "The Duel" is a
work of genius—and, like the books by Gosse and Waugh, a stunning picture
Fr. D. Vincent Twomey, S.V.D. holds both a Ph.D. in Theology and is Professor Emeritus of Moral Theology at
the Pontifical University of St. Patrick's College, Maynooth, Ireland. A formal doctoral student under Joseph Ratzinger, Twomey is the
author of several books, including Pope Benedict XVI:
The Conscience of Our Age (A Theological Portrait), and his acclaimed study of the state of Irish Catholicism,
The End of Irish Catholicism?
of Nazareth, by
Pope Benedict XVI (New York, Doubleday, 2007). This is a book that inspires and
informs. It brings the reader close to the mystery of God-made-man by being
faithful to the text of Scripture, and by interpreting each text within the
context of the entire Bible and against the background of the entire history of
scriptural interpretation, which is judiciously used. The author, it seems to
me, achieves a kind of Copernican revolution in the field of exegesis by
integrating the best of modern exegesis of individual texts into a method that
is close to that of the Fathers of the Church, one that is ultimately based on
a basic trust in the sacred texts themselves and their many layered meaning.
Spe Salvi, by Pope
Benedict XVI (Vatican City: LEV, 2007). This encyclical not only describes the
virtue of hope, it gives hope. At the same time, it offers a radical critique
of that perversion of hope which underlies modernity, namely belief in earthly
progress. The final section is perhaps one of the most spiritual documents ever
to come from the pen of a Pope, where Benedict XVI offers three concrete ways
for us to deepen the virtue of hope: prayer, suffering, and contemplation of
the "last things".
and Classical Culture: A Study of Thought and Action from Augustus to
Charles Norris Cochrane (New York: Oxford University Press, 1944). This book
was on my list of books to be read for some years. This year I finally got to
read it, and realized what I had missed all these years. The author has a firm
grasp of the world of late antiquity, its achievements, and its underlying
thought patterns—as well as its greatness and its basic flaws. He
eloquently demonstrates how it ultimately took the genius of St Augustine to
resolve the insights and the inner contradictions of the Classical mind by
transcending them on the basis of the Trinitarian faith, thereby forging a new synthesis,
one that in time forged the great Western European civilization.
Way of the Lamb: The Spirit of Childhood and the End of the Age, by John Saward (Edinburgh: T & T
Clark: 1999; Ignatius Press, 1999). For anyone concerned with pro-life issues but
tending to be discouraged because of the prevalence of the culture of death,
this book is a "must read". It provides a theological antidote to the
contemporary political, scientific, and medical attacks on children at their
earliest stage of development and, on the basis of the writings of St Therese
of the Child Jesus, C.K. Chesterton, Charles Péguy, Georges Bernanos and Hans
Urs von Balthasar, it offers the key to a contemporary spirituality to match
one's political involvement. It helps the reader to recover that spirit of
childhood that alone can overcome the power and principalities of this world of
spiritual arrogance and death.
Dr. Jose Yulo teaches courses on philosophy, western civilization, United States history, and public speaking at
the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. He has a Doctorate in Education from the University of San Francisco, with an emphasis on
the philosophy of education. He also holds a Master's degree in political communication from Emerson College in Boston, as well as a
Bachelor's degree in the classical liberal arts from St. John's College in Annapolis, MD. Originally from Manila in the Philippines,
his research interests lie in Greek philosophy, the histories of Greek and Roman politics and warfare, and the literature of J.R.R. Tolkien. He is
a regular contributor to IgnatiusInsight.com.
Search for IgnatiusInsight.com articles by Dr. Jose Yulo
Hideous Strength, The Great Divorce, The Abolition of Man, and The Discarded Image, all by C. S. Lewis.
Lepanto, by G. K. Chesterton.
Culture Counts, by Roger Scruton.
Revolutionary Characters, by Gordon Wood.
The Regensburg Lecture, by Fr. James Schall S.J.
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