The fourth volume of Merton's correspondence, complementing The Hidden Ground of Love, 1985 (letters on religion and society), The Road to Joy, 1989 (letters to friends), and The School of Charity, 1990 (letters on monastic spirituality). It's now apparent that Merton, already celebrated as an autobiographer and Christian contemplative, was also one of the great American letter-writers of the century. His range is as vast as his adopted nation (he was born in France): God, jazz, civil rights, atomic weaponry, obedience, rebellion, etc. Ably edited by Bochen (Religious Studies/Nazareth College of Rochester), this collection consists of letters to other writers; the contents all postdate Merton's bestselling literary debut, The Seven Storey Mountain (1948). The first epistles, in fact, are addressed to Evelyn Waugh, who was assigned the task of trimming Mountain for British publication. Here, Merton is the eager apprentice at the mentor's feet (``I need criticism the way a man dying of thirst needs water''), but not above passing on clever ideas for novels or urging Waugh to recite the rosary. Next comes a compilation of letters to three Christian writers: Jacques Maritain, with whom Merton discusses the joys of the hermit life; Czeslaw Milosz, who questions the value of political action; and Boris Pasternak, to whom Merton reveals some dreams. A flurry of letters to Latin American writers, most of them obscure--Ernesto Cardenal, once a novice monk under Merton's guidance, is a notable exception-- invites glossing-over. The great grab bag comes last: missives to American correspondents like James Baldwin, Walker Percy, William Carlos Williams, and Henry Miller (the two balding guys chuckle over their physical likeness). Less jocular than The Road to Joy, less profound than The School of Charity--but, for all that, a well-rounded monument to a well-rounded man.