An approachable, worthwhile history of a venerable Catholic brotherhood.



A richly illustrated and entertaining history of the Knights of Columbus.

Andrew Walther, the Knights’ vice president for communications and strategic planning, and Maureen Walther, who worked for the CEO for 10 years, begin with an overview of anti-Catholic sentiments in the United States, which led to Father Michael Joseph McGivney’s founding of an organization of Catholic men in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1882. The group eventually became the Knights of Columbus, taking as its namesake Christopher Columbus and focusing on such concepts as charity, fraternity, and patriotism. The authors explain that the Knights expanded quickly and acted as a major force for Catholic pride and unity in the face of bigoted actions by the Ku Klux Klan and anti-Catholic voices in society at large. The Knights took an active role in serving the military during World War I and in fighting poverty during the Great Depression, cementing their place in American society. As the Walthers guide readers through the religiously active 1950s and ’60s, the challenges to religious life of the later 20th century, and the global perspective of recent years, they focus not only on the inner workings of the Knights and their mission, but also on their interaction with the wider church and society, including popes and presidents. The authors enrich the flow of text with countless photos, a number of inset sidebars, and a series of “Notable Knight” minibiographies, including such diverse individuals as Babe Ruth and Sargent Shriver. A running timeline at the bottom of most pages reminds readers of the broader historical backdrop of the Knights’ story. Though far from a critical account, this history does its primary job well: introducing lay readers to the Knights and providing devotees with an informative resource for casual browsing or more serious study.

An approachable, worthwhile history of a venerable Catholic brotherhood.

Pub Date: March 9, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7570-0308-0

Page Count: 296

Publisher: SquareOne Publishers

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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This a book of earlier, philosophical essays concerned with the essential "absurdity" of life and the concept that- to overcome the strong tendency to suicide in every thoughtful man-one must accept life on its own terms with its values of revolt, liberty and passion. A dreary thesis- derived from and distorting the beliefs of the founders of existentialism, Jaspers, Heldegger and Kierkegaard, etc., the point of view seems peculiarly outmoded. It is based on the experience of war and the resistance, liberally laced with Andre Gide's excessive intellectualism. The younger existentialists such as Sartre and Camus, with their gift for the terse novel or intense drama, seem to have omitted from their philosophy all the deep religiosity which permeates the work of the great existentialist thinkers. This contributes to a basic lack of vitality in themselves, in these essays, and ten years after the war Camus seems unaware that the life force has healed old wounds... Largely for avant garde aesthetes and his special coterie.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1955

ISBN: 0679733736

Page Count: 228

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1955

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