This story of a 6th century Irish saint -- a missionary, monk and explorer -- makes for exciting reading. Told here against the backdrop of a colorful and wild period in history, this life of one of the most ascetical of monks is recreated skillfully. He is portrayed as the castigator of willful rulers, as a reformer in a corrupt, half-Christian civilization and as one of the founders of a penitential spirituality which characterized the Europe of the Middle Ages. Columban influenced the history of Europe and the church in a unique way. The author of this biography, a prominent Irish writer, here depends heavily on primary sources which guarantee recognition of this great monk's full contribution to history. Mr. McManus discounts the exaggerations he found in the early biographers such as Jonas and uses only what he considers valid for an honest presentation, though he does qualify when the situation is in area of probability. A good example of hagiography as it should be written.