Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Silence: A Series Of Conferences Given By A Camaldolese Hermit (Christian Literature)

Paperback:  Unfortunately, today the ascetical part of our spiritual life does not have many admirers, still less, followers.

Many would like to reach the peak of perfection in a very short time, without any mortification or self-denial.

To them it seems that love is all that is needed because it is the bond of perfection.

What they say is correct but incomplete - they do not fully understand how many sacrifices are demanded by Christian love.

We cannot really love God and our brothers if we do not die to ourselves.

In order to love perfectly God and our neighbour, we must practically give up many things and accept many sacrifices.

Love asks for courageous and generous sacrifices!  "Love must hurt us," said Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

- from the Concluding Conference

A Call To A Deeper Love: The Family Correspondence Of The Parents Of Saint Thérèse Of The Child Jesus 1863-1885 by Blessed Louis and Zélie Martin

Paperback:  The 218 letters of Zélie and the 16 letters of Louis Martin reproduced in these pages provide us with a treasury of rich insights into the lives and spirituality of these two individuals who were Beatified by the Church on October 19, 2008 at the Basilica of St Thérèse in Lisieux, France. 

We are given here a series of snapshots revealing the tone and texture of the lives of these two saintly, and in many ways, very ordinary people.  The incidents described in these pages give us access to the honesty and intimacy of the lives of the parents of St Thérèse never meant for the general public. They greatly enrich our understanding of this charismatic couple who radiated holiness and brought to life the greatest saint of the modern age.  They underscore the fact that sainthood is a family project of parents and children immersed in the God of love.  They call us to a deeper love for God, for each other and for the poor in our midst and invite us to accept whatever the will of God may be for us in our lives, however confusing and painful that may be, and to have total trust and confidence in Him.  The anguish of losing four of their nine children, the economic reverses that threatened their businesses, Zélie's losing battle with breast cancer and the Alzheimer's disease suffered by Louis are all brought vividly to light in these letters as is the undying love of this model couple for one another.

As St Thérèse wrote: "God has given me a father and mother more worthy of heaven than of earth."

The present volume has been invaluably enhanced by Dr Fran Renda through a large number of expanded footnotes and other introductory material explaining the background, the times and the customs that prevailed in France during the years in which these letters were written.

Guy Gaucher, Auxiliary Bishop of Bayeux and Lisieux and the Sisters of Lisieux are responsible for the preface, the notes and the overall presentation of the text which has been flawlessly translated into English by Ann C Hess.

Two 16-page color sections replete with hither-to-now unseen photographs of the family from this time (1863-1885) make this work an invaluable treasure for the afficionados of St Thérèse and her parents.

A Call To A Deeper Love (2011) is translated by Ann Connors Hess and edited by Dr Frances Renda.

Thursday, 25 October 2018

The Snakehead: An Epic Tale Of The Chinatown Underworld And The American Dream by Patrick Radden Keefe

Hardback:  The story of the Golden Venture is a particular one, but the questions it raises have relevance throughout the world. 

How can governments combat the growth of organized human smuggling?

How should individual countries handle the influx of undocumented migrants seeking work?

How can an asylum policy be both efficient and fair without becoming a magnet that actually induces poor people to leave their homes and risk their lives in the expectation that if they can survive the journey, they will receive asylum once they arrive?

In the 1980s, a wave of Chinese from Fujian province began arriving in America.  Like other immigrant groups before them, they showed up with little money but with an intense work ethic and an unshakeable belief in the promise of the United States.  Many of them lived in a world outside the law, working in a shadow economy overseen by the ruthless gangs that ruled the narrow streets of New York’s Chinatown.

The figure who came to dominate this Chinese underworld was a middle-aged grandmother known as Sister Ping.  Her path to the American dream began with an unusual business run out of a tiny noodle store on Hester Street.  From her perch above the shop, Sister Ping ran a full-service underground bank for illegal Chinese immigrants.

But her real business-a business that earned an estimated $40 million-was smuggling people.

As a “snakehead,” she built a complex - and often vicious - global conglomerate, relying heavily on familial ties, and employing one of Chinatown's most violent gangs to protect her power and profits. Like an underworld CEO, Sister Ping created an intricate smuggling network that stretched from Fujian Province to Hong Kong to Burma to Thailand to Kenya to Guatemala to Mexico.  Her ingenuity and drive were awe-inspiring both to the Chinatown community - where she was revered as a homegrown Don Corleone - and to the law enforcement officials who could never quite catch her.

Indeed, Sister Ping’s empire only came to light in 1993 when the Golden Venture, a ship loaded with 300 undocumented immigrants, ran aground off a Queens beach.  It took New York’s fabled “Jade Squad” and the FBI nearly ten years to untangle the criminal network and home in on its unusual mastermind.

The Snakehead (2009) is a panoramic tale of international intrigue and a dramatic portrait of the underground economy in which America’s twelve million illegal immigrants live.  Based on hundreds of interviews, Patrick Radden Keefe’s sweeping narrative tells the story not only of Sister Ping, but of the gangland gunslingers who worked for her, the immigration and law enforcement officials who pursued her, and the generation of penniless immigrants who risked death and braved a 17 000 mile odyssey so that they could realize their own version of the American dream.

The Snakehead offers an intimate tour of life on the mean streets of Chinatown, a vivid blueprint of organized crime in an age of globalization and a masterful exploration of the ways in which illegal immigration affects us all.

Grand in scope yet propulsive in narrative force, The Snakehead (2009) is both a kaleidoscopic crime story and a brilliant exploration of the ironies of immigration in America.

About the author:  Patrick Radden Keefe is a staff writer at The New Yorker, an Eric and Wendy Schmidt Fellow at the New America Foundation and the author of The Snakehead and Chatter.  His work has also appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Slate, New York, and The New York Review of Books, among others and he is a frequent commentator on NPR, the BBC, and MSNBC.  Patrick received the 2014 National Magazine Award for Feature Writing, for his story “A Loaded Gun,” was a finalist for the National Magazine Award for Reporting in 2015 and 2016, and is also the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Invicta: The Life And Work Of Daphne Caruana Galizia edited by Joseph A Debono and Caroline Muscat

Hardback:  Freedom consists of this:  Who has useful advice to give to the state?  The person who provides such advice gains fame while the person who does not wish to do so remains silent.  What can be more just in the state? - Euripides, The Suppliants, verses 437-441.

On 16 October 2017, Daphne Caruana Galizia, the most formidable Maltese journalist of her time, was murdered by a bomb placed under her car. That bomb did not just kill one of the most prominent characters in the history of Malta since Independence, it also tore a hole right through Maltese society and politics. For over thirty years, Daphne took a pen to Maltese society and politics and, wielding it like a razor, shaved as close to the flesh as she possibly could. Her cause was democracy in its fullest sense, Daphne insisted that democracy was not just majority rule, it also comprised minority rights, checks and balances, rule of law, autonomy of the institutions, accountability and good governance. Above all, she upheld freedom of expression as the fundamental instrument through which to scrutinise authorities and hold them to account. For her pains, she was demonised and came under sustained fire for all those thirty years, but not once did she wilt or flinch.

“Invicta” means “the unconquered woman” and there is no more fitting epithet for Daphne than this. For she died with pen in her hand and unyielding to the very end. To pay tribute and to commemorate Daphne’s significant contribution to democracy and to journalism, this book brings together an array of Maltese and international academics, journalists and friends. It is time to reflect deeply on Daphne and her legacy.

Invicta (2017) does just that.

All profits for this book will go to Dar Merħba Bik, as chosen by Daphne Caruana Galizia’s family.

Editors' Note:  This book brings together a group of academics, journalists and friends to reflect on the life and work of Daphne Caruana Galizia, and the circumstances of her death.  Contributions have been written in the style of a newspaper or magazine column and many contain opinion and speculation.  As far as these opinions, speculations and even analyses are concerned, the reader should be aware that these are the views of their authors alone and may not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial team.

Monday, 22 October 2018

Eve Was Framed: Women And British Justice (Law/Women's Studies) by Helena Kennedy

Paperback:  Eve Was Framed (1992) offers an impassioned, personal critique of the British legal system.

Helena Kennedy focuses on the treatment of women in our courts - at the prejudices of judges, the misconceptions of jurors, the labyrinths of court procedures and the influence of the media.

But the inequities she uncovers could apply equally to any disadvantaged group - to those whose cases are subtly affected by race, class poverty or politics, or who are burdened, even before they appear in court, by misleading stereotypes.

About the author:  Helena Kennedy QC is one of Britain’s most distinguished lawyers and public figures.  She is a regular broadcaster, journalist and lecturer and throughout her career has focussed on giving voice to those who have least power in the system, championing civil liberties and civil rights.  Her 1992 book, Eve Was Framed, led to a number of key reforms for women and was followed in 2004 by Just Law.  She was the Master of Mansfield College, University of Oxford, from 2011 to 2018, and was awarded a life peerage in 1997.  Born in Glasgow, she lives in London.

Friday, 19 October 2018

The Power Of Silence Against The Dictatorship Of Noise (Christian Literature) by Robert Cardinal Sarah with Nicolas Diat

Paperback:  In a time when there is more and more noise, and technology and materialism continue to exert their hold on us, Cardinal Robert Sarah presents a bold book about the strength of silence.

The world generates so much noise that seeking moments of silence only becomes more necessary. For Cardinal Sarah, modern man, in repressing the divine, finds himself in a deep dilemma, an oppressive and anguishing trial.  The Cardinal recalls that life is a silent relationship between what is most intimate in man and God.  Silence is indispensable for hearing the music of God:  prayer arises from silence and returns to silence with ever greater depth.

In this long and profound conversation with Nicolas Diat, done within the hallowed walls of silence in the famous Carthusian monastery of La Grande Chartreux in France, the Cardinal proposes the question:  can those who do not know silence ever attain truth, beauty, love?  The response is undeniable:  all that is great and creative is formed by silence.

God is silence.

After the great international success of God or Nothing (2015), translated into fourteen languages, Cardinal Sarah seeks to restore to silence its place of honour and importance.  "Although speech characterizes man, silence is what defines him, because speech acquires sense only in terms of this silence."  This is the beautiful and significant message of The Power of Silence (2017).

In this book, Cardinal Sarah has only one aim, which is summed up in this thought from his book: "Silence is difficult but it makes a human being able to allow himself to be led by God.  Silence is born of silence.  Through God the silent one we can gain access to silence.  And a human being is unceasingly surprised by the light that bursts forth then.  Silence is more important than any other human work.  For it expresses God.  The true revolution comes from silence;  it leads us toward God and others so as to place ourselves humbly and generously at their service."

The Power of Silence is translated from the original 2016 French edition by Michael J Miller.

About the authors:  Robert Cardinal Sarah was born in Guinea, West Africa.  Made an Archbishop by Pope John Paul II and a Cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI, he was named the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments by Pope Francis in 2014.  He is the author of God or Nothing (2015).

Nicolas Diat is a French journalist and author.  His previous collaboration with Cardinal Sarah was on his celebrated book God or Nothing.

Thursday, 18 October 2018

An Unsuitable Match by Joanna Trollope

Hardback:  "Why on earth, after all you've been through, all you've survived, all you've achieved, why do you want to get married?"

Rose Woodrowe has just got engaged to Tyler Masson - a wonderful, sensitive man who is head-over-heels in love with her.  The only problem?  This isn’t the first time for either of them, and their five grown-up children have strong opinions on the matter.

Like Rose's daughter, Laura, who remembers her parents' painful divorce and doesn't want to see her mother hurt again.  Or the twins, Emmy and Nat, who simply don't trust the man their mother has fallen for.  Then there's Tyler's children:  Seth, too busy with his San Francisco sourdough bakery to get to know his father's new partner;  and Mallory, the aspiring actress, who is still wrestling with the issues of her own childhood.

Who to listen to?  Who to please?  Rose and Tyler are determined to get it right this time, but in trying to make everyone happy, can they ever be happy themselves?

An Unsuitable Match (2018), by number one bestselling author Joanna Trollope, is an uplifting story of love, family and second chances.

About the author:  Joanna Trollope is the author of twenty highly acclaimed and bestselling novels, including The Rector’s Wife, Marrying the Mistress, Daughters-in-Law and City of Friends.  She was appointed OBE in 1996, and a trustee of the National Literacy Trust in in 2012.  She has chaired the Whitbread and Orange Awards, as well as being a judge of many other literature prizes including chairing the BBC National Short Story Awards in 2017;  she has been part of two DCMS panels on public libraries and is patron of numerous charities, including Meningitis Now, and Chawton House Library.  In 2014, she updated Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility as the opening novel in the Austen Project.  An Suitable Match is her twenty-first novel.

Rating:  5/5

"Send Me Your Guardian Angel" Padre Pio by Fr Alessio Parente

Paperback:  This book is a help in our understanding who the Guardian Angels are, and to whom we recite the prayer of the "Angel of God."

It is the extraordinary experiences of ST Pio of Pietrelcina that he confided in letters to his spiritual director before 1924, when ordered to end all his correspondence, that disclose this to us;  as well as the personal witness of the author, Fr Alessio Parente, who had the privilege to assist Padre Pio during his last years and was able to testify that the apparitions continued to the end of his life.

These are two most valuable founts of information, seeing that Padre Pio was always very reserved and rarely confided his experiences.

"Send Me Your Guardian Angel" (2016) is a reprint and is edited by Fr Francesco D Colacelli.

About the author:  Father Alessio Parente is a Capuchin Friar Minor of the religious province of Sant Angelo and Padre Pio.  He had the privilege of assisting Padre Pio in his last years and was responsible for the English correspondence.

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Wedderburn: A True Tale of Blood And Dust (True Crime) by Maryrose Cuskelly

Paperback:  The littlest thing can cause a fallout. - Gavan Holt, Councillor for Wedderburn Ward, Loddon Shire

What does it take to provoke a murder?

Wedderburn (2018) is the story of a grisly triple murder in Central Victoria in October 2014 - contemporary Australian true crime at its best.

One fine Wednesday evening in October 2014, 65-year-old Ian Jamieson secured a hunting knife in a sheath to his belt and climbed through the wire fence separating his property from that of his much younger neighbour Greg Holmes.  Less than 30 minutes later, Holmes was dead, stabbed more than 25 times.  Jamieson returned home and took two shotguns from his gun safe.  He walked across the road and shot Holmes' mother, Mary Lockhart, and her husband, Peter, multiple times before calling the police.

In this compelling book, Maryrose Cuskelly gets to the core of this small Australian town and the people within it.

Much like the successful podcast S-Town, things are not always as they seem: Wedderburn begins with an outwardly simple murder but expands to probe the dark secrets that fester within small towns, asking:  is murder something that lives next door to us all?

About the author:  Maryrose Cuskelly is a freelance writer and editor.  She is the author of two books, Original Skin: An exploration of the remarkable human hide (Scribe 2010) and The End of Charity: Time for social enterprise (Allen & Unwin 2008), which she wrote with Nic Frances, and was the winner of the Iremonger Award.  Her essays and articles have been published in a range of magazines, journals, and newspapers, including The Age, The Australian, The Melbourne Magazine, WellBeing, The Big Issue and RealTime.  Last year Maryrose won the Thunderbolt Prize for Crime Writing (Non-fiction) for her essay 'Well Before Dark'.

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

The Devil In The Life Of Padre Pio by Fr Tarcisio of Cervinara

Paperback:  The existence of the devil which the secular world of disbelief and atheism would wish to relegate to myth or legend is a reality that we cannot close our eyes to.

"The greatest work of the devil in this modern era," the poet Baudelaire said, "is to convince us that he does not exist."

Nobody can deny that evil, suffering and hate exist, but does the evil one, Satan, the devil, the demon exist?  Is he a true, concrete, existing reality?

Fr Tarcisio Cervinara, the author of this book, a Capuchin friar who lived for many years close to Padre Pio has made a thorough and accurate research into Sacred Scripture, the teachings of the Magisterium of the Church and united to these the testimonies and words of Padre Pio to help unmask this great deception of our era.

The Devil In The Life Of Padre Pio (2015, reprint) will hopefully strengthen our faith and help us learn to pray with more humility and to understand the words "But deliver us from evil" that Our Lord taught us when asked by His apostles on how to pray to Our Father.

Friday, 5 October 2018

Billion Dollar Whale: The Man Who Fooled Wall Street, Hollywood And The World (Non-fiction) by Tom Wright and Bradley Hope

Paperback:  In 2009, with the dust yet to settle on the financial crisis, a baby-faced, seemingly mild-mannered Wharton grad began setting in motion a fraud of unprecedented gall and magnitude - one that would come to symbolize the next great threat to the global financial system.

His name is Jho Low, a man whose behaviour was so preposterous he might seem made up.

An epic true-tale of hubris and greed, Billion Dollar Whale (2018) reveals how this young social climber pulled off one of the biggest heists in history - right under the nose of the global financial industry.

Federal agents who helped unravel Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme say the 1MDB affair will become the textbook case of financial fraud in the modern age - and its fallout is already being credited for taking down the prime minister of Malaysia.

For readers of Liar’s Poker, Den of Thieves, and Bad Blood, Billion Dollar Whale will become a classic, harrowing parable about finance run amok.

About the authors:  Tom Wright was one of the first journalists to arrive at the scene of the raid in which Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden.  In 2013, he spearheaded coverage of the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh, which killed over 1 000 people, earning the Wall Street Journal a Sigma Delta Chi award from The Society of Professional Journalists.  He is a Pulitzer finalist, a Loeb winner, and has garnered numerous awards from the Society of Publishers in Asia, which in 2016 named him "Journalist of the Year."  He speaks English, Malay, French and Italian.

Bradley Hope has worked for the Wall Street Journal for the last four years, covering finance and malfeasance from New York City and London.  Before that, he spent six years as a correspondent in the Middle East, where he covered the Arab Spring uprisings from Cairo, Tripoli, Tunis, and Beirut. He was detained by authorities in Bahrain, reported from the front lines of the Libyan civil war, and has been teargassed in raucous Egyptian protests.  Bradley is a Pulitzer finalist and a Loeb winner, and also author of Last Days of the Pharaoh, a chronicle of the final days and hours of the presidency of Hosni Mubarak.

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

The Way Of Humility: Corruption And Sin And On Self-Accusation by Jorge Mario Bergoglio

Paperback:  Originally a series written by Pope Francis while he was Cardinal Archbishop of Buenos Aires, these profound meditations give an inspiring introduction to the path of humility and love needed to form true Christian communities.  They are divided into two separate works, Corruption and Sin, and Self-Accusation.

As the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Pope Francis ministered in a country that suffered greatly from the effects of corruption in public and private life.  In these texts, the current Holy Father reflects on the connection between sin and corruption in the life of every Christian and how pride and self-sufficiency lead from one to the other.  The roots of many of the themes of his pontificate can be found in these texts on humility, honesty and simplicity.

The two pieces are on different but related issues.  The difference between sin and corruption and the remedy for sin, which is self-accusation, meaning telling oneself the truth about one's faults. 

In short, pride is the problem;  humility is the solution.

The Pope states:  "It will do us good to reflect together on the problem of corruption and also on its relationship with sin.  It will do us good to shake up our souls with the prophetic force of the Gospel, which places us in the truth about things by stirring up the layers of fallen dead leaves of human weakness and complicity that can create the conditions for corruption.  It will do us a lot of good, in the light of God's word, to learn to discern the different states of corruption that surround us and threaten to lead us astray.  It will do us good to say to one another again, "Yes, I'm a sinner; but no, I'm not corrupt!" - and to say it with fear, lest we accept the state of corruption as just another sin."

About the author:  Jorge Mario Bergoglio (Pope Francis) is the first Latin American to be elected to the chair of Peter.  A native of Buenos Aires, Argentina, he served as head of the Society of Jesus in Argentina, then became the archbishop of Buenos Aires, and was elected to be the Pope in March, 2013.