A remarkably forthright and uncompromising exploration of Catholic conscience.

A Christian assessment of the immigration crisis at the United States’ southern border.

In her nonfiction debut, Dakin-Grimm draws on many years of experience as a lawyer, including six years as an immigration attorney, to help readers understand the current situation facing immigrants to the United States—particularly unaccompanied kids at the U.S.–Mexico border. Along the way, she diagnoses complications in the system and offers potential resolutions. Her study was prompted, in large part, by her personal feelings as a practicing Christian; in her “mostly white, affluent Catholic parish” in California, she writes, “I had never heard a Sunday homily that even mentioned the word ‘immigration,’ much less the phenomenon of these unaccompanied children.” Here, she presents details about these minors and their families and tries to explain why they risk so much in order to come to the United States. She also addresses how devout Catholics can approach the various issues that immigration raises. To do so, she provides a series of detailed profiles, using first names only; Gilberto, for instance, fled the violence of Guatemala’s MS-13 gangs and entered the United States in 2014, seeking asylum. However, Dakin-Grimm explains, the U.S. government “simply does not grant asylum to most of the people we know have suffered terribly, and who we believe to be genuinely fleeing persecution, poverty, terror, wars, famine, and atrocities.” Despite the odds, however, Gilberto eventually got his green card in 2017 and now seeks to become an American citizen. Through these and other stories, the author efficiently dramatizes the struggles of many such seekers, and she uses the accounts to help educate fellow Catholics on their broader implications.

“Jesus never permits us to weigh the value of [immigrants’] lives against other existing difficulties, to turn our backs, or to send them away,” she asserts. “Catholics may never do so, even if U.S. law allows precisely that response.” In polished, well-sourced prose, Dakin-Grimm expounds on the historical and theological roots of the Catholic ethos, tracing them back to St. Thomas Aquinas (“good is to be promoted and evil is to be avoided”) and continuing the throughline to modern-day popes, such as John Paul II; she quotes the latter’s 1993 encyclical Veritatis Splendor, which affirmed the existence of moral absolutes as well as their opposites: “certain specific kinds of behavior that are always wrong to choose.” Indeed, the most memorable parts of Dakin-Grimm’s book bracingly dig into such Catholic principles, and she’s refreshingly unyielding on the moral demands that faith places on the faithful: “Catholics may never legitimately conclude that decent suffering people…can be ignored or turned away.” The book also doesn’t flinch from events of the last few years, noting that the Trump administration’s policies resulted in “one of the darkest moments in modern U.S. history.” Throughout, her tone is empathetic and ethical, and some of her Catholic readers may feel chastised as they read. At the same time, they’ll be thrilled to see such a clear case for faith-based compassion.

A remarkably forthright and uncompromising exploration of Catholic conscience.

Pub Date: Aug. 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62698-381-6

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Orbis

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021


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 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998



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