Two New Raves

Although the "official" America review will not be out for a few weeks, I wanted to (without treading upon the reviewer’s field) recommend Ron Hansen’s new book, "Exiles." It’s a masterfully told novel (or "fiction based on fact") that toggles between the Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins’ writing of his epic masterpiece "The Wreck of the Deutschland," and the actual story of the five nuns whose drowning inspired his great poem. I’ve always hoped that Ron (full disclosure: good friend), author of one of my all-time favorite books, "Mariette in Ecstasy," would one day turn his pen towards Hopkins, and he has succeeded gloriously. Yesterday The Washington Post called it "dazzling and beautiful." Anyway, that’s all I shall say till our review appears. But how about this? Why not buy the book now and compare notes with our eventual reviewer? Also, our own "In All Things" blogger Michael Sean Winters’ new book, "Left at the Altar: How Democrats Lost the Catholic and How Catholics Can Save the Democrats," got a rave review in Publishers’ Weekly, the Bible of the publishing industry. "Political commentator and blogger Winters has, in a non-polemic and intelligent way, achieved what most newscasters and Washington insiders have failed to do for a long time," said PW. "Starting with Roosevelt’s New Deal, the author illuminates how Catholic social teaching and politics once cooperated for the good of the country but then fell out of favor, ironically with the advent of popular Catholic President John F. Kennedy, who drew a sharp line between his faith and his politics....The author holds an impressive knowledge of both Catholicism and politics, which he presents with crisp and fluid writing throughout. This work is an important prescription to combat election year spin-doctoring." Gentle Reader: Ignore not those raves. James Martin, SJ

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