Book Reviews

'Purity' by Jonathan Franzen

While Franzen’s natural mode as writer is one of confident high spirits, in "Purity" his view of people is steeped in pessimism, and his characters are miserable.
Jacques Maritain

Christian Human Rights

In "Christian Human Rights," Samuel Moyn concedes that the modern human-rights movement is untethered from its Christian origins. Is this something to worry about?

The Year of Lear

You don’t need to be a thespian to appreciate James Shapiro's "Year of Lear"—a brilliant, meticulously researched history of social tensions that inspired the play.

Mary McGrory, Leding Lady

John Norris's new biography of Pulitzer prize-winning political journalist (and Commonweal Catholic) Mary McGrory is engaging, carefully researched, and sympathetic.

Great Is the Truth

An account of the sexual abuse scandal at the elite Horace Mann school, noteworthy for the contrast with common impressions of Catholic institutional environments.

The Coup at Catholic University

Peter Mitchell's take on Charles Curran and the "dissident theologian" strike at Catholic University in 1967 presents a conspiracy so big it's literally incredible.

Accountability, Anyone?

Why has there never been a culture of accountability in the American university? James Keenan, SJ believes the teachers of ethics should practice what they preach.

Backhanded Complementarity

In this collection of essays, authors draw on “Theology of the Body" to present the Church as a place where women’s leadership can flourish. The results are mixed.

The Arab Had a Name

Narrated by the nameless victim's brother, Kamal Daoud's novel asks: Did Camus intend to use the Algerian murder victim in 'The Stranger' as a disposable prop?

The Wisdom of the Beguines

Swan’s book does a good job of explaining both the beguines’ spiritual practices in the context of their own times and how their continuing legacy affects us today.

The Road to Character

Brooks thinks character is what’s missing in our self-centered society, yet has written a self-help book for an age he believes values the self much too highly.

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Anne Enright's new novel suggests something simple—family, for good or ill, keeps forming us even when we try to escape it—but her prose constantly surprises.
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