Crisis Magazine Editors’ Book Selections

[The following is a list of favored book selections of the editorial staff at Crisis Magazine.]

***Deal Hudson, publisher, recommends:

The Greatest Game Ever Played

by Mark Frost

In 1913 a teenager from Boston, Francis Quimet, won the U.S. Open Golf Tournament by beating England's two best players &#0151 Harry Vardon and Ted Ray &#0151 in an eighteen-hole playoff. In Frost's elegantly written account, the Quimet saga becomes a paean to the sport of golf and to the American character. There isn't another book on golf that I could recommend more highly.

In the Deep Midwinter

by Robert Clark

The apt title aside, this is a powerful saga of love and life destroyed by an abortion. The author, a Catholic writer from the Northwest, is lauded by the likes of Jonathan Yardley of the Washington Post and deserves serious attention from Catholic readers.

Due to some mature themes, this book is for adults only.

Alfred Hitchcock: A Life in Darkness and Light

by Patrick McGilligan

A decade ago, a Hitchcock biography by Donald Spoto painted an unsavory portrait of my favorite film director by attempting to link his obsessions to personal perversities. McGilligan has successfully rescued Hitchcock's reputation with this meticulous account of his life and work, including a respectful treatment of his Catholic piety along with his capacity for generosity and friendship.

*** Brian Saint-Paul, editor, recommends:

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America

by Erik Larson

In a masterpiece of popular history, Larson traces the stories of two men through the landmark 1893 Chicago World's Fair. Daniel Burnham was an architect of rare and immense talent &#0151 the czar who assembled the fair. And Dr. H.H. Holmes was one of America's most horrific serial killers, who constructed a virtual chamber of horrors just blocks away from the “White City.” A book all the more astonishing for being true.

Dead Certainties (Unwarranted Speculations)

by Simon Schama

Following the theme of weaving together two distinct stories, Harvard's Simon Schama explores the role imagination plays in the writing of history. Using art, journals, letters, and some bald speculation, he offers the reader a fascinating window into the way things may — or may not — have been.

The Chess Garden

by Brooks Hansen

In the waning years of his life, Dr. Gustave Uyterhoeven makes a trip to the Antipodes &#0151 a mystical world populated by game pieces. He sends a series of letters back to his wife, detailing his travels and observations. Influenced by Lewis Carroll, Hansen surpasses the master with unforgettable scenes and hauntingly beautiful imagery. Love, loss, and God wind together in this majestic philosophical novel. I include this book every time we do a book recommendation e-letter, and will continue to do so. More than any other novel I've read, this is the one that remains with me.

*** Dianne Boffetti, managing editor, recommends:

Blessings in Disguise

by Alec Guinness

Blessings in Disguise is one of several autobiographies written by the late British actor Sir Alec Guinness. Probably best-known for his role as Obi-Wan Kenobi in the movie Star Wars, he has also starred in many other great films, including Bridge on the River Kwai, The Horse's Mouth, and The Ladykillers (a remake by the Coen Brothers and starring Tom Hanks will be in theaters in March). Blessings in Disguise is a charming collection of reminiscences of Guinness's life and career, including his conversion to Catholicism.

Art: A New History

by Paul Johnson

At almost 800 pages (with 300 color illustrations), this book requires a commitment. But if you want a comprehensive survey of the history of art, from cave paintings to the present day, it's well worth your time. Johnson combines a richly detailed knowledge of the subject with his passionate love of art into a fascinating and enjoyable read.

*** Margaret Cabaniss, features/internet editor, recommends:

The Power and the Glory

by Graham Greene

Yet another book about a priest, but unlike Bernanos' humble priest in France, Greene's unnamed whiskey priest is hardly the picture of virtue. A man on the run in 1930s Mexico after Christianity has been outlawed, the broken cleric contemplates the past sins that continue to haunt him and struggles to overcome his weakness in the search for salvation.

*** Raymond Matthew Wray, associate publisher, recommends:

The Hunt for Bin Laden

by Robin Moore

Moore goes behind the scenes with the U.S. Army Special Forces &#0151 a few hundred of which had secured Afghanistan from over 100,000 entrenched Taliban and al-Qaida rebels. A fun and fast-paced read.

*** Ann Guppy, assistant publisher, recommends:

The Problem of Pain

by C.S. Lewis

Lewis examines the origin of pain, its inevitable role in our lives, and how it can actually be used for good. The problem of pain really isn't pain itself but our view of it. An indispensable, highly-readable book.

*** Zoe Romanowsky, director of development, recommends:

Strangers in the House

by Raja Shehadeh

This beautifully-written memoir documents the experiences of a prominent Palestinian lawyer growing up in occupied Palestine. Though it offers insight into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it's more a story about Shehadeh's relationship with his father, Aziz Shehadeh, who in 1967 was the first Palestinian to advocate a peaceful, two-state solution.

The Art of the Commonplace, the Agrarian Essays of Wendell Berry

What does it mean to be good stewards of the earth? To nurture our families and communities? To leave a healthy place for our grandchildren? In these 21 essays, writer and farmer Wendell Berry throws down a challenge to our consumerist, profit-driven society. Berry's vision, rooted in Scripture and respect for creation, provides food for thought for anyone interested in the work of cultural renewal.

*** Agnes Bunagan, development associate, recommends:

The Diary of a Country Priest

by Georges Bernanos

Find a warm and comfortable spot to curl up with this stern but heartwarming book. To love without guile — this is the only way the faithful young priest of Ambricourt knew. And yet tragically he found himself friendless and misunderstood by the very people he has loved and served. I can't say enough about this touching story of quiet suffering and faith.

*** Elena Cardenas, publishing assistant, recommends:

Father Sergius

by Leo Tolstoy

A short story about a dashing young officer turned monk. While he lives a life of outward sanctity, he's inwardly torn by doubt and the temptations of lust and worldly fame. After falling prey to his weaknesses, he runs away from his hermitage and finds a true example of humility and devotion to the needs of others.

It Doesn't Take a Hero: The Autobiography of General H. Norman Schwarzkopf

Full of blunt, sometimes brutal, soldier's wit, Schwarzkopf recalls coping with his mother's alcoholism as a child, his schooling at West Point, his two tours during the Vietnam War, and his participation in the First Gulf War. An inspirational story of what one man can achieve through a positive attitude, boundless enthusiasm, and a great love of country.

*** Mary Hundt, development assistant, recommends:

Pope John XXIII: The Official Biography

by Mario Benigni and Goffredo Zanchi

A thorough account of the pope behind Vatican II. The book gives you an in-depth look at the man himself, accompanied by quotes from his personal journals, and an understanding of why he believed Vatican II was necessary. A great read for anyone looking for a personal angle on the history of the Church during a time of change.

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