Royal's catalog of the horrors that Catholics, like so many others, suffered at the hands of brutal regimes of both right...




Historian Royal (President/Faith and Reason Institute) surveys the Catholics who, on every continent but Antarctica and Australia, have died for their beliefs in the course of the last century.

After an introduction defining the meaning of martyrdom in Catholic faith and devotion, and an explanation of some of the guidelines by which the church determines whether a particular murder constitutes martyrdom, Royal surveys the waves of persecution—from the Mexican government's anticlerical war on the church in the 1920s to the near-genocidal tribal conflicts in Burundi and Rwanda in the 1990s—that have produced more martyrs than any other period of Christian history. Although the stories of many of these figures (such as Maximilian Kolbe, Edith Stein, and Oscar Romero) are well-known, others (the heroic Mexican Jesuit Miguel Pro) are more obscure, and some accounts (the many martyrs of the Spanish Civil War, the victims of postwar Romania's "reeducation," and the surprising story of the Albanian security agent whose denunciation of the Enver Hoxha's persecutions was inadvertently broadcast in 1948) will be new to most readers. Royal treads delicately around some of the more controversial aspects of his martyrology (like the pre-WWII anti-Semitic writings of Kolbe), and he is plainly uncomfortable with the political thrust of the story of Romero and the other martyrs of El Salvador. And some of people profiled here (such as China's Cardinal Ignatius Kung) are not martyrs in the strict sense of the word, as they suffered for their faith without giving their lives.

Royal's catalog of the horrors that Catholics, like so many others, suffered at the hands of brutal regimes of both right and left in this bloody century will edify believers—and should provide a useful (and often surprising) historical corrective for all scholars of the modern age.

Pub Date: July 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-8245-1846-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2000

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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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