Layers, man. Layers. There are a lot of issues woven into one book. Holocaust. Medieval Church politics. Antisemitism. Child sex abuse in the Church (Layers, man. Layers. There are a lot of issues woven into one book. Holocaust. Medieval Church politics. Antisemitism. Child sex abuse in the Church (both medieval and modern, actually). Clericalism altogether, in fact.
I liked every character and plot line (and sub-plot line), though, and each time we returned to someone else's story I was (1) disappointed to leave the last POV; and then (2) really drawn into the current one. Despite the heaviness of the themes, moreover, the book did have some humor, some light moments, and (best of all) good pacing....more
As a historian who teaches the Vietnam War for a term course, this book's "on the ground" empathy and storytelling was simply outstanding. As an authoAs a historian who teaches the Vietnam War for a term course, this book's "on the ground" empathy and storytelling was simply outstanding. As an author who wants to see how a former priest writes a priest, I appreciated the full humanity and conflict going on in the main character, Michael.
The POV from a character who did not witness all events in the book required some suspension of disbelief, but I am not sure the author could have done it differently. Carroll still hooks the reader on every character, yet I think we needed some mystery for Michael (hence Frank's POV)....more
While the organization was a bit confusing (not linear at all, but not wholly thematic either?), and while I had to suspend some disbelief wh3.5 stars
While the organization was a bit confusing (not linear at all, but not wholly thematic either?), and while I had to suspend some disbelief while reading it, there is no better peek into the modern rite of exorcism in the Catholic Church....more
Most of the book is not really about small-town surgery but the training Wheeler undertook at Harvard Medical School, as a "house pupil" (resident) atMost of the book is not really about small-town surgery but the training Wheeler undertook at Harvard Medical School, as a "house pupil" (resident) at Massachusetts General Hospital, and his post-graduate studies in Austria and Germany. Wheeler's memoir is interesting because of the time in which he lived and practiced, at the dawning of a new medical age that had just learned germ theory, had just developed antiseptic surgery practices, and was not emphasizing science and laboratory knowledge over ancient theories of humors. Wheeler is also able to relate amusing anecdotes to keep the story interesting, though portions do drag as he can get bogged down in a bit of detail at times. Nevertheless, Wheeler was a doctor always seeking to learn and experience more, and that is what probably made him a good physician too....more
I did learn a lot about inspection procedures on steamer travel and medical thinking of the time, aand the first chapter of his survival of the JohnstI did learn a lot about inspection procedures on steamer travel and medical thinking of the time, aand the first chapter of his survival of the Johnstown Flood of 1889 as a teenager is really grippingly told and absolutely worth reading (though you can find it on the internet elsewhere). The author is probably more open-minded than his peers, but it is still hard to read the systemic and pervasive nature of racism as a component of US policy. There is also a lot of the author showing off when he was right and everyone else was wrong, or just how he tricked people into doing what he wanted them to do. It grew tiresome....more
I only read about half of this book, but that was because that was all I needed for my research. For someone who isn't an MD, or even a scientist myseI only read about half of this book, but that was because that was all I needed for my research. For someone who isn't an MD, or even a scientist myself, I found its explanation of the development of medical school education engaging and highly comprehensible....more
Previous reviews claimed that the perspective given to natural childbirth is skewed by the author's bias as an anesthesiologist, and I have no expertiPrevious reviews claimed that the perspective given to natural childbirth is skewed by the author's bias as an anesthesiologist, and I have no expertise in either field to bring to bear on that debate. As a historian who specializes in the social, political, and economic movements of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, however, I find Caton's observations in those areas to be sound. How he ties medical history—particularly attitudes toward pain and the relief of pain—to those trends is very interesting and well-presented.
(As an author, though, I am shocked that Yale University press could not give him a better cover, or at least a better font—what is that, Helvetica?—and design. It's like they mocked this up in Microsoft Word. Also, maybe significantly, the cover features a male doctor and a newborn baby—no mother. Though the book is mostly about male doctors, so that's on target, what is interesting to me is that the early efforts to reform childbirth practices focused on mothers, not the infants, since the mothers were more likely to die. In any case, my ninth-graders could have designed a better cover, which is too bad for this author.)...more
My only complaint with this book was that I was not smart enough to understand the really science-y parts—but the beauty of the book is that you can sMy only complaint with this book was that I was not smart enough to understand the really science-y parts—but the beauty of the book is that you can skip those sentences here and there and still get a really strong understanding of the range, beauty, usefulness, and latest research on ferns. The author has a fantastic ability to translate complex ideas into simple analogies and clear language. All science books should be this good—I might not have gone into the humanities!...more
Competent heroes and heroines are my jam, and so are big, interconnected families—so this book was a true pleasure. Hero Alex is maybe one of the mostCompetent heroes and heroines are my jam, and so are big, interconnected families—so this book was a true pleasure. Hero Alex is maybe one of the most attractive romantic leads I've read in a long time because he had it all: tatted arms and great abs that say alpha male on the outside, but a former-geek-turned-academic sensitive guy on the inside. The sex of this book happens off the page, and that was a disappointment for me (though I respect the author's preference for doing it that way, and she leads you right up to the door before closing it).
Gia's professional competence takes center stage. She is a restoration architect, and the author is too—which is clear in the way the job and its physical and bureaucratic perils are carefully presented from beginning to end. Having lived in Laguna and traveled to Vigan and other places featured in the book, I could visualize these scenes so well. If you are new to Philippine architecture and heritage, do take a look at a few pictures (here's my Pinterest on ancestral homes, though you should search for more of the heritage churches).
Furthermore, I loved the nuances of this strong Catholic family (Gia's twin brother is a priest, and so is her uncle who raised the twins, and they all still live within a stone's throw of each other and take care of each other). Gia is a single mother, but there is no shaming of her. The family, including brother and uncle, basically co-parent these happy twins (yes, twins run in the family). Moreover, Gia is not on a husband/father hunt, nor is she is (re)saving herself for marriage. She is happy with her life in many ways, and she does not need a man to make her whole. Then she meets Alex, and we all need Alex.
This may be a matter of taste, but the ending seemed too quick. I definitely appreciated how there was no Big Misunderstanding or contrived conflict, but the location of the HEA felt like it was settled without enough communication between the two MCs. (Maybe this is my own bias since my husband and I have had to negotiate location/job switches based on each other's needs, and it is always a big deal.) Alex is a Filipino-American and his career has been in California and Hawaii; Gia's work and life are literally intertwined in every piece of stone and mortar she surveys and saves in the Philippines. Fortunately, the ending went the right way (of course it did!). (view spoiler)[Also, the twins' father shows up, and there is a little tension in that scene. I especially did not like how he tried to "handle" Gia—physically—but I am glad that he wasn't made out to be evil. (hide spoiler)] For sure, I was rooting for Alex and Gia the whole way, and their HEA is adorable....more
On the one hand, this book is not quite as advertised: instead of lots of detailed case-studies, each chapter of this book is an essay on a particularOn the one hand, this book is not quite as advertised: instead of lots of detailed case-studies, each chapter of this book is an essay on a particular ailment or theme with a few patients added in as illustration. I wish there was more direct experience here and less of the author's opinion on medicine in general.
On the other hand, at least Dr. Harpole is not a fan of eugenics, like so many of his fellow physicians. (Seriously, it is a major problem. Do not be fooled that only Nazis and other hate groups believed in eugenics. Even a major medical journals like the New England Journal of Medicine wrote an editorial in 1912 that looked forward to the day "when eugenics has superseded evolution in the elimination of the unfit...".) And there were some interesting lessons of 1930s medical experience that I had never realized before, including the idea that disfigurement from wounds in the Great War was the key factor that pushed plastic surgery into the mainstream.
This was an engaging story of a sensible and talented woman doctor among the Nordic immigrant loggers of Colorado's peaks. Through documents 4.5 stars
This was an engaging story of a sensible and talented woman doctor among the Nordic immigrant loggers of Colorado's peaks. Through documents and many detailed interviews, the author managed to source all the personal details of her cases, friendships, and love-life (incomplete as it was). It is all well told and an engrossing read. Personally, I was not as engaged in the Gilded Age railroad politics at the end of the book, partly because it required the introduction of many names, dates, and places that confused me. However, if you are interested in the Moffat Tunnel and the enormous human cost exacted to build it, then the end of the book will be an important source for you. Overall, I learned more from this book than I had even hoped....more
The attempt here was to find priests with "scholarship and literary craftsmanship" to write why they had left the active ministry. (Spoiler a3.5 stars
The attempt here was to find priests with "scholarship and literary craftsmanship" to write why they had left the active ministry. (Spoiler alert: they wanted to exercise their human right to marry. There's also other issues, like obedience to laws they find inappropriate to their congregations, like birth control.) These authors all seemed quite bright, but their stories were often a bit dull as a result. Still, a good contribution to the literature....more
It is hard to rate this book because it is such a specific read: the history of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) in the Philippines. The author is the fIt is hard to rate this book because it is such a specific read: the history of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) in the Philippines. The author is the first Filipino Provincial Superior of the Jesuits, and his loyalty is not in question. I would argue his perspective is Jesuit first and Filipino second, as he is quicker to blame Filipino priests for violating their vows than their (mostly) Spanish predecessors. But, to be fair, he presents everything as a debate with the many perspectives shown. The latter part of the book is more personal of Father de la Costa's experience helping Filipino and American resistance during World War II—and this part will be useful to my future research, so I have saved it for later days. ...more
Kavanaugh was the then-anonymous author of the Saturday Evening Post article, “I am a Priest and I Want to Marry,” that launched a firestorm in AmericKavanaugh was the then-anonymous author of the Saturday Evening Post article, “I am a Priest and I Want to Marry,” that launched a firestorm in American Catholicism. This book is a somewhat-personal, somewhat-general study of the state of the Church in the late 1960s. While parts were a bit long-winded, generally this was a good read....more
Catholic priest and writer Andrew M. Greeley said that Power and the Glory was the best book on the priesthood he had ever read, which illustrates GreCatholic priest and writer Andrew M. Greeley said that Power and the Glory was the best book on the priesthood he had ever read, which illustrates Greeley had a complicated relationship with his vocation. This book was scandalous when it came out because the unnamed protagonist "whisky priest" is a drunkard and sinner whose faith in himself has been undermined by his wretched state and remorseless paternity. On the other hand, the priest's faith holds firm, which is pretty much the theme of the book.
On a historical note, I admit to a huge gap in my own education: prior to reading this book, I had known little about the Red Shirts movement in 1930s Mexico. This short-lived fascist government banned the Church and shot priests who refused to renounce their vows and marry. As a much-needed primer alone, I would have enjoyed the book. I also found the vignettes—the small slices of life described in each scene—very powerful.
Unfortunately, the thread that tied together all these characters and stories felt too loose until quite late in the book. It was easy to put the book down and not pick it up again for a few days at a time. By the end, though, I stayed up late to finish it.
I also think that the bias of a British author comes through in some implicitly racist descriptions that may have been less remarkable when this was published but now seem more problematic....more
I give this memoir four stars for its honesty. It is the most revealing of the memoirs I've read, especially as regards to faith, family, and sexual iI give this memoir four stars for its honesty. It is the most revealing of the memoirs I've read, especially as regards to faith, family, and sexual intimacy. I read Longo's wife's book first, I Married a Priest, which really served as an extended epilogue to this volume. Now I want to go back and read her account again, just to see Gabe as a more fleshed-out figure. I liked Joan a lot, so I went into this book liking the man who would wholeheartedly pursue her and marry her, even though some of Gabe's attitudes (baked-in from his conservative upbringing) troubled me. I appreciate him laying his experience in the priesthood as open as he does—wounds and all. In 1966, when this book was published, that was quite a shock to American Catholicism....more
In all my "former priest" books, the voice not heard are the women. Joan Longo did not meet Gabe until he had already been out of the active ministry In all my "former priest" books, the voice not heard are the women. Joan Longo did not meet Gabe until he had already been out of the active ministry for four years, but her and her husband's work in supporting priests in transition does give her a particular eye for the issues, and all from a woman's perspective. While parts of the story feel disjointed at times, and though it is a pretty straight memoir (not thematic), I enjoyed Joan's writing very much....more
If you are looking for a memoir that justifies a person's professional, theological views, this book weaves the two together rather well. UnfortunatelIf you are looking for a memoir that justifies a person's professional, theological views, this book weaves the two together rather well. Unfortunately for me, I was not as much involved in justifications of Crossan's work, and those portions were less interesting. I also thought he could have pushed himself to develop more about his struggles during his departure from the monastery, but that's probably my agenda....more
This is a beautiful book about a brilliant, broken man. It is maybe one of the most honest tales of how alcoholism creates alter-egos that ca4.5 stars
This is a beautiful book about a brilliant, broken man. It is maybe one of the most honest tales of how alcoholism creates alter-egos that can undo everything a person creates and shapes. It seems this author was maybe better when he was surrounded by people, not let alone to wander into the arms of booze, because he seemed most sober while living with fellow priests. And yet he makes a good case that celibacy was not for him. Though this was not a great book for my research, I devoured it. My biggest complaint was that it felt short and, at times, undeveloped. I would have liked more!...more
This memoir reaches beyond one man's story and also serves as an introduction to Catholic theology, history, and doctrine—a readable introduc4.5 stars
This memoir reaches beyond one man's story and also serves as an introduction to Catholic theology, history, and doctrine—a readable introduction, don't worry. It is clear that Dinter was well-placed as a chaplain at Columbia University and that he was a probably a moving preacher in his heyday. Despite the author's intention that this is not a treatise, it can veer rather close at times. Nevertheless, the narrative is always grounded in the author's own journey. At times the story is generous in its honesty and humility, which I always appreciate. However, like other books of its kind, I wish that there had been more than a few pages about Dinter's marriage and married life because I believe that transition is an essential part of the story too. However, I also imagine few wives would appreciate such candor. Too bad (for me and my research)....more
I could start my review by saying that this book is so white, and you would point out that it was written about a specific time (of the While AustraliI could start my review by saying that this book is so white, and you would point out that it was written about a specific time (of the While Australia policy). We could quibble about to what extent it was true to the time period it was written in and therefore gets a pass. I'm not sure.
Certainly, it was icky in other ways, particularly the pedophilia. The priest hero picks out his "heroine" when she is ten years old, and he grooms her (sometimes while she is his ward) into being his perfect (and only) woman, even though he has no intention of leaving the priesthood for her. He grooms her and abandons her to marry someone else, and this husband of course does not live up to the ideal of Mr. Priest in her mind. Why does he even want to be a priest? Ambition. (view spoiler)[Their son, who is a "perfect priest" (because he wants to be a priest for God) never gets to work with the people. He is kept in Rome as an administrative priest, to remind the other priests of what they could be but are not. And then he dies for reasons that I admit were totally beyond me. He was a sacrifice to God? I dunno. (hide spoiler)] While this book is often talked about as a "sexy priest" book, I think it fails on both fronts for me. Both the sexy bits are problematic (for the reasons above) and the priesthood is not convincingly portrayed.
I did like the setting, and with the brush fires going on in Australia now (sadly), I have a much better picture of what this means to people. I also love an epic story: following the parents, then the kids, then even peeking into the next generation...this is my thang. So I did read to the end for these reasons....more
While the same theme became repetitive over twelve tellings, it was a good theme and it bore repeating. Many of these twelve priests first be4.5 stars
While the same theme became repetitive over twelve tellings, it was a good theme and it bore repeating. Many of these twelve priests first became disillusioned with the Church as they were fighting against segregation and for the Civil Rights Movement (against many racist white Catholics in the Midwest). Almost all of these priests fell in love in consensual adult relationships and left to marry. While I think a casual reader can probably get away with only reading a few of the narratives in order to get a clear picture—and some are better written than others—together they tell a powerful story....more
I've started to figure this author out. On topics that he knows personally—the priesthood, and surprisingly commodities trading—he writes a subtle andI've started to figure this author out. On topics that he knows personally—the priesthood, and surprisingly commodities trading—he writes a subtle and complex story that resonates and captivates. On everything else, he writes exaggerated, excessively violent and—at worst—racist and misogynist pulp. I'm very tired of the knee-jerk reliance on sexual assault....more
If you are looking for a guide to a Latin (Tridentine) Mass (think pre-Vatican 2), this book is both beautifully illustrated and complete. Whether youIf you are looking for a guide to a Latin (Tridentine) Mass (think pre-Vatican 2), this book is both beautifully illustrated and complete. Whether you are a regular attendee to Catholic Mass or are new to the experience altogether, you can learn a lot about traditional Catholicism (pre-1963).
Edited to add: Please note that I am not endorsing any particular faith or a particular way of celebrating that faith. But if information is what you seek, this book delivers it in a visually attractive way....more
CW: lots of fat shaming, attempted sexual assault, sexual assault and rape (on and off page), homophobic slurs
I am very con**spoiler alert** 2.5 stars
CW: lots of fat shaming, attempted sexual assault, sexual assault and rape (on and off page), homophobic slurs
I am very conflicted about this book, hence the review. There is no compromise in my ambivalence: I loved and hated it at the same time.
On the one hand, the story arc is excellent. Two friends enter the priesthood together. One climbs the ladder fast, ultimately becoming a cardinal. He is ambitious, easily corrupted (or implicated in corruption), not celibate, and—at times but not always and usually conflicted—a sexual predator (only adults). The other friend is an exiled and belittled but brilliant academic priest, loosely based on the author. (If you read his autobiography, you will see how much.) It is the "unsuccessful" priest who must constantly bail out and save the "successful" one. There is Church politics, scandal, intrigue, family saga, and more, and all of these things add tremendously and convincingly to the story. Only a priest could write the inside baseball aspects of this story so convincingly.
On the other hand, the author's attitudes towards women are at best conflicting and at worst intentionally victimizing. He would (and does in his autobiography) claim that the women are the strongest characters of the book. Sometimes. And sometimes they protest against a rapist but then give in and then—get this—find that they enjoy being molested and raped? No. While I do think there is some kind of primordial exploration of kink in a few of the characters, the author knows nothing of kink and so assumes that violence without consent is kink...which it is NOT. (It is possible this book may have provided some inspiration to Tiffany Reisz's Original Sinners series—blond sadist priest—but Reisz knows what she's doing.) The author thinks he is feminist, but it is a very 1980s Catholic view of feminism, which is to say not feminist at all.
On the third hand (I'm an octopus), the female characters are more layered than you see in many novels written by men in the 1980s. The women have their own arcs that sometimes (gasp!) have nothing to do with the two priests.
The writing overall is pretty good and the story moves quickly. Conversation can be stilted (especially when the teenagers talk, which borders on riotous to me), but the book is not overladen with unnecessary description. There is a single first person POV of the "unsuccessful" priest throughout most of the book, but the author uses letters between the female characters and italicized third person portions to provide what the main character cannot see. Honestly, it feels a little sophomoric in that respect. Also, the eventual Cardinal's reasons for the priesthood are strangely more fleshed out than the hero's. Other than he always wanted to be a priest, we do not understand why he sticks with it.
The end infuriated me, partly because it has so many ridiculous holes, partly because it was a poor imitation of a James Bond movie, and partly because in no way did I believe a good, kind Catholic priest (narrator) and his best female friend (the real protagonist of the book?) would react so placidly to a violent rape in front of their eyes. Nor did I need to read about it, nor was it necessary. I am sick of books that use rape as a lazy plot device. Sick. Of. Them....more
This is one of those books that changes the way you view your own life and its possibilities. One simple [I listened to the audiobook from Overdrive.]
This is one of those books that changes the way you view your own life and its possibilities. One simple idea—range—has so many meanings. It inspires to be an outsider adaptable generalist who stays out of professional and personal ruts and is not afraid to pivot away from entrenched interests and biases. Never have I felt so empowered by my zigzag path to my career, and my late entry into professional writing.
This book will change the way I approach the students I teach and advise in my day job, how I teach, and even the way I write fictional characters. The impacts are infinite. It is simply a different way to look at everything....more