Christmas books to stimulate and entertain

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If memory serves, this past year saw electronic books top printed books in the sales figures at Amazon.com. Be that as it may, books -- real books -- still make wonderful Christmas gifts. Here are some recently published (and read) titles I can recommend with enthusiasm, writes George Weigel in Ethics and Public policy Centre.

The Union War, by Gary W. Gallagher (Harvard University Press): As the Civil War Sesquicentennial gets underway in earnest, it's good to have Gary Gallagher of the University of Virginia as a guide to why what happened happened.

The Union War argues that the northern war was, above all, a war for the Union, as his previous volume, The Confederate War, demonstrated that nationalism, and the defence of what the South understood to be its liberties, was at the heart of its war effort. Gallagher uses the tools of social history (including letters from veterans on both sides and Civil War-era journalism) to buttress his case.

Ascension Theology, by Douglas Farrow (T & T Clark): One of North America's rising younger theologians, Doug Farrow of Montreal's McGill University, is also a superb writer who makes theology come alive for the literate, but not necessarily specialist, reader.

He positions the Ascension at the centre of the Christian proclamation and creed and thereby sheds new light on everything, from the nature of the Church to the full meaning of the Eucharist.

Newman and His Contemporaries, by Edward Short (T & T Clark): Another Newman book? Well, yes, and a particularly fine one that explores Newman's relationships with the great ecclesiastical, literary, political, and journalistic figures of his time.

Short's close reading of Newman's vast correspondence also demonstrates just how many of our post-Vatican II arguments were anticipated in the 19th century among Newman and his interlocutors.

YouCat (Ignatius Press): I will admit to a certain skepticism when the Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church was announced, but my doubts have given way to enthusiasm.

FULL STORY Books for Christmas (Ethics and Public Policy Centre)

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