Sunday book notices

Hans Holbein, the Younger - Sir Thomas More - Google Art Project


Three books I have read recently and can recommend, in case you are looking for something to load up on your Kindle or arrange on your shelves.

Reformation Divided by Eamon Duffy
Our Cambridge historian, Eamon Duffy, must be credited with the greatest influence in turning around the historical consensus on the reformation. In Reformation Divided, he has edited and put together a collection of articles and themed them quite successfully into a book whose principal point is to explore two reformations that were going on side-by-side.

That is to say that what is usually called the Catholic counter-reformation did not follow breathlessly in the footsteps of a supposedly longed-for protestant reformation after it had happened. The reform of the Church was already underway and the two reforms competed for the loyalty of Christians.

The book has a balanced look at the life and work of St Thomas More, and has already helped to restore the saint's reputation after his popular vilification in the oeuvre of Hilary Mantel. Chapters on Cardinal Pole's preaching, William Allen, and Gregory Martin are fascinating and give us the benefit of original research. Although many Catholics may be less enthralled by the final section, I do recommend persevering with the essays on some of the radical reformers who tried to inject what we might now call "intentional discipleship" into an English Protestant life that was settling into mediocrity.

Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson
First published in 2008, this biography of Einstein is intelligible and entertaining without being trivial. At 705 pages, it is a substantial treatment and offers an explanation not only of Einstein's key discoveries, but also of the ways in which he disagreed with fellow scientists, particularly on the matter of the universe having, ultimately, to make sense.

The Devil Hates Latin Edition by Katharine Galgano
This is a good entry in what seems to be a new genre of Catholic novels recognising the fact that the traditional Latin Mass is a part of the life of the Church again now. A page-turner thriller which is fun to read, with lots of action.

(Links go to the Amazon UK page for each book. I link to the Kindle edition because that is how I read most new books these days, but you can easily click around if you want the paper and glue version.)

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