A dry but informative examination of an eminent philosopher and theologian.



This debut religious novel fictionalizes the life of Thomas Aquinas.

Just as Italy is becoming a hotly contested battleground between the forces of the pope and those of the Holy Roman Empire, a child is born in 1225 to the landowning Aquino family, whose castle sits on the frontier of these warring states. His mother, Theodora, names the infant after the apostle famous for doubting the risen Jesus: “But flowing through the veins of this infant was the antithesis of doubt. It was soon quite clear that he was endowed with a double portion of the spirit of truth.” Thomas’ education exposes him to ancient philosophers, while an encounter with the Dominicans, a contemporary order, spurs his religious zeal. Despite the disapproval of his mother, Thomas joins the Dominicans. He goes to Paris to continue his studies under Albert the Great, where his silent studiousness earns him the nickname “the Dumb Ox.” In the city’s tempestuous scholastic environment, Thomas begins fusing ancient and Eastern thought with Roman Catholic doctrines, a practice that causes much controversy. Despite his detractors, Thomas’ deep commitment to both reason and faith leads to groundbreaking theology, which will eventually earn him a reputation as one of the church’s greatest scholars and leave an indelible mark on Western philosophy. O’Reilly writes in a breezy but exact prose: “In Viterbo, where Pope Clement IV was living, Thomas preached and offered spiritual sustenance to the pope and the curia, as well as to the Dominicans in his charge, but late into the night he dictated the theological masterpiece, his Summa Theologiae, to several secretaries at once.” The author tells most of the story via exposition, which does not allow Thomas to emerge as a fully formed character. As a result, the book reads less like a novel than a biography. Even so, O’Reilly does an excellent job contextualizing Aquinas within the political, religious, and philosophical battles of his day, making this a pleasantly accessible work for those learning about the theologian for the first time.

A dry but informative examination of an eminent philosopher and theologian.

Pub Date: June 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-947431-12-6

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Barbera Foundation

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2018

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A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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