Jerome Gratian by Carlos Ros (St Paul’s, £19.99). Those who have read the letters of St Teresa of Avila will know of her correspondence with her dear friend and confessor Fr Jerome Gratian. Indeed, he was closer to her than her famous contemporary St John of the Cross. This new and fascinating biography of Gratian, translated by John McGowan OCD, reveals the human side of sanctity (and of Teresa herself). Once reprimanded by Gratian for being too effusive towards him, Teresa replied characteristically: “Do you not know that no matter how perfect a soul may be it still needs an outlet?”
The Journey by J Richard Smith (DLT, £8.99). Smith, a leading gynaecological surgeon, suffered a personal health scare which led to him on his own spiritual quest. An Anglo-Catholic, he read the classic text The Way of a Pilgrim and began to practise contemplative prayer. This book is the result, describing Smith’s journey towards physical and spiritual wellbeing, as he visits ancient pilgrim centres such as Jerusalem, Assisi, Iona, Patmos and Mount Athos. Fellow pilgrims and travellers will enjoy his vivid account of these itineraries. Royalties will go to the charity Womb Transplant UK.
The Vanquished by Robert Gerwarth (Allen Lane, £25). In this penetrating study the author, professor of modern history at UCD, makes a persuasive case in arguing that the unrest unleashed by the “vanquished” nations of Europe after the First World War was the inevitable prelude to the later world war. Upheavals in Russia, struggles in the Baltic countries, ferment in the Balkans, as well as the massacre of Christians in Smyrna in 1922 by the Turks under Atatürk, were events that diplomacy was powerless to control. As an analysis of the years 1917-1923 in particular, this book should be read by anyone interested in European history.
Labyrinths by Catrine Clay (William Collins, £20). This biography of Emma Jung, wife of Carl Jung, provides an interesting glimpse into the early years of psychoanalysis, the relationship between Jung and Freud, and the personalities within their joint circle. Emma emerges as a strong and attractive character, raising their five children during Jung’s many absences, running a stable and loving home, and putting up with her husband’s entourage of female devotees. Emma was highly intelligent and a wealthy heiress. Her money and her sane grip on reality made her complex husband’s literary output possible.
Military Justice: A Very Short Introduction by Eugene R Fidell (Oxford University Press, £7.99). OUP’s series of short introductions continues apace with this fascinating if slightly rarefied examination of military justice. We’re all familiar with court martials, but Fidell probes deeper, asking such questions as: who falls under military jurisdiction? What crimes can the military prosecute? Looking at American, Canadian and British systems, Fidell guides us through the complex jurisdictional territory and also makes a plea for further transparency and devolution of powers.
How to continue reading…
This article appears in the Catholic Herald magazine - to read it in full subscribe to our digital edition from just 30p a week
The Catholic Herald is your essential weekly guide to the Catholic world; latest news, incisive opinion, expert analysis and spiritual reflection