Make Your Bed by William H McRaven (Penguin, £9.99). This small book, a New York Times bestseller written by a retired US admiral, expands on a talk he gave to the graduating class of the University of Texas in 2014. Based on his experience of his gruelling six-month training off the coast of California to become a Navy Seal, the toughest force in the US military, it is full of sensible character-building advice, beginning with “make your bed”. McRaven thinks it is noteworthy that Saddam Hussein, who the admiral helped to look after in captivity, never made his bed in prison.
With Christ in Service by Patrick Carberry SJ (Messenger Publications, £8.95). Subtitled “Jesuit Lives throughout the Ages”, this collection of stories includes essays on Blessed Rupert Mayer and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin among figures such as St Edmund Campion and St Francis Xavier. It reminds us that this order has always attracted men of intellectual gifts and apostolic zeal. The most outstanding is Mayer, whose tomb in Munich is visited by thousands of admirers who remember his heroic opposition to the Nazis, for which he was imprisoned in 1940 in Sachsenhausen concentration camp.
Gibraltar: the Greatest Siege in British History by Roy and Lesley Adkins (Little, Brown, £20). With the issue making national news again, and ruffling political feathers, this book comes at an apposite time. The Adkins, a husband-and-wife team who specialise in naval history, have captured the tortured and contested story of this solitary rock with aplomb. The siege itself took place between 1779 and 1783, with French and Spanish forces blockading the tiny island by both land and sea. The Adkins’s page-turning account makes you feel as if you were there amid the smoke, blood and gunpowder.
Farewell to the Horse by Ulrich Raulff (Allen Lane, £25). This book of 375 pages is a feast of horse lore in history, literature, society and culture. Clearly a labour of love by its author, a German literary archivist, it describes “The final century of our relationship”, as the subtitle puts it, reminding us that until the advent of trains, the horse reigned supreme as the mode of transport in city and countryside. Then cars were invented, and “the horse [became] the Red Indian of the Western world.” The fascinating illustrations include the aged Tolstoy on his horse and Rembrandt’s The Polish Rider.
Come Follow Me by Daniel Mueggenborg (Gracewing, £15.99). These “Discipleship Reflections on the Sunday Gospel Readings for Liturgical Year B” by an auxiliary bishop of Seattle reflect on the designated passages in order to help lay people think about how the readings relate to their own lives. They include questions to stimulate the reader’s faith as well as reflections that would be useful for group Bible studies. As such, the book is an excellent resource; though, as the author reminds us, it cannot be “a substitute for the Word of God in Scripture” or replace the sacred texts.
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