This is a collection of essays by the distinguished author on various subjects, related loosely through the common underlying theme of the relation of the person to the social organization. Merton sees neither Communism nor western society as really personal. Persons-in-communion-with-one-another is no more a feature of western social organization than it is of communistic collectivist society. Even religious organization in the west is not without its serious defects in this respect. The author looks hopefully back to the eremitical ideal of former Christian ages. Part One contains a beautiful, incisive essay on ""The Pasternak Affair"", an interesting and provocative essay on the monks of Mt. Athos and an appealing introduction to The Ladder of Ascent of St. John Climacus. Part Two includes a profound discourse on ""The Power and Meaning of Love"" and a forceful essay on ""Christianity and Totalitarianism"". Part Three contains seven short essays on various subjects of artistic, historical, and mystical interest. As the author himself states, ""The subjects are more or less controversial"", and he is ""simply- thinking out loud about certain events and ideas which seem to (him) to be significant, in one way or another, for the spiritual and internal life of man."" What he says is always profound, and certain passages may strike some readers as containing some very bold thinking. All in all, this volume is a rare intellectual and spiritual treat. Its general theme and the author's treatment are radical in the very best sense of the term.