Books

Letters | The limits of loyalty, liqueur to the rescue

Readers write in to disagree with Jonathan Haidt's "moral foundations theory" and share enthusiasm for an historic liqueur made by monks from honey and herbs.

Anwar al-Awlaki, American

Scott Shane's telling of the U.S.-born Muslim preacher-turned-terrorist and his surveillance by the FBI reveals that the calculus for terrorism is political.

'Finale: A Novel of the Reagan Years'

In his latest, Thomas Mallon turns real-life figures like Nixon, Reagan, and Nancy Reagan's astrologer into characters as skillfully as he creates fictional ones.

The River Runs On

Norman Maclean understood loving and losing in the light of Christian faith. But he couldn’t quite trust Christianity’s promise of redemption. Tragedy was his theme.

'A War for the Soul of America'

Andrew Hartman's argument is that while “cultural conflict persists,” it has come to partake of a highly ironic flavor—and continues to ignore economic inequality.

Top Books of 2015

Out of the more than eighty book reviews Commonweal published in 2015, these twelve were the most read, discussed, and shared on social media.

'Eternally Begotten'

"Metaphysics." The word unexpectedly provided me with new reflections on the deepest meaning of the birth of Jesus and the Incarnation—the seen and the unseen.

A Shattered Mosaic

Considering how religiously diverse and culturally cosmopolitan its cities were before WWI, few could have foreseen today's calamity for the Middle Eastern region.

'Out of Ashes'

Konrad Jarausch's history of Europe's recent past pursues a fundamental question—what is modernization? And is modern progress liberating for all, or still "dark"?

'Between the World and Me'

In Ta-Nehisi Coates’s interpretation of race in America, hope doesn't fit into the narrative—something James Baldwin, to whom he's compared, wouldn't leave out.

'Once in a Great City'

What fascinates Maraniss about Detroit more than its ruin is how central its story is to the broader course of U.S. history—Motown, the local Mob, the auto industry.

'Go Set a Watchman'

'Go Set Watchman' shows that though Atticus Finch defended a black man in court, he was still a man of his time—on the white citizens council, resisting integration.
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