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Weigel’s Books for Christmas–2019

The following titles will delight, instruct, edify (or all of the above).


Resist the twitterization of thought — give books for Christmas! The following titles will delight, instruct, edify (or all of the above):

Churchill: Walking with Destiny, by Andrew Roberts (Viking): There seems to be no end to the making of books about Winston Churchill. I own 17 and have no hesitation in saying this is the best Churchill biography ever, written with a narrative drive that sustains your interest through even the familiar bits. It’s also a treasure-trove of witticisms, including this rapier-quick Churchillian riposte to Charlie Chaplin’s announcement at a Chartwell dinner party that his next movie role would be Jesus Christ: “Have you cleared the rights?

In Oceans Deep: Redemptive Suffering and the Crucified God, by Eduardo Echeverria (Lectio Publishing): A powerful reflection on the mystery of evil from a fine theologian and insightful commentator on matters ecclesiastical, written while he was mourning the death of a two-year old granddaughter.

Land of Hope: An Invitation to the Great American Story, by Wilfred M. McClay (Encounter Books): The antidote to the damage caused by Howard Zinn’s wretched People’s History of the United States. Give it to every millennial on your Christmas list.

Appeasement: Chamberlain, Hitler, Churchill, and the Road to War, by Tim Bouverie (Tim Duggan Books), and 1941: The Year Germany Lost the War, by Andrew Nagorski (Simon & Schuster): Two powerful reminders that pretending totalitarians don’t mean what they say makes matters worse.

The Day Is Now Far Spent, by Robert Cardinal Sarah in conversation with Nicolas Diat (Ignatius Press): Cardinal Sarah is a radically converted Christian disciple whose love for Christ impels him to speak without euphemism about Catholicism’s contemporary challenges. Some may find the cardinal’s reading of the signs of the times apocalyptic; the same people would likely say the same thing about St. Augustine.

The Guarded Gate: Bigotry, Eugenics, and the Law That Kept Two Generations of Jews, Italians, and Other European Immigrants Out of America, by Daniel Okrent (Scribner): A chilling exploration of how WASP prejudice married to crackpot “science” warped American politics and law — and a preview of how the same cocktail of nonsense (and some of the same people) helped advance the abortion license.

Last Testament, by Benedict XVI with Peter Seewald (Bloomsbury Continuum): Forty-five minutes with the Pope Emeritus in October easily rank among my most bracing conversations of 2019. This interview-style memoir ought to (but likely won’t) clear up some misconceptions about a brilliant and holy man, as it ought to (but certainly won’t) put a stop to lurid speculations about the reason for his abdication.

Touched with Fire: Morris B. Abram and the Battle Against Racial and Religious Discrimination, by David Lowe (Potomac Books): An overdue celebration of a man of conviction and courage and a useful reminder that not so long ago “liberal” meant something much better than “crazy leftist.”

George Marshall: Defender of the Republic, by David L. Roll (Dutton Caliber): Hard as it may be to imagine these days, giants once walked the earth along the Potomac littoral. As U.S. Army Chief of Staff throughout World War II, then post-war Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense, George Catlett Marshall didn’t get everything right; no one does. But he was the antithesis of those who crave distinction from high office instead of bringing distinction to it, and his example continues to inspire.

Primal Screams: How the Sexual Revolution Created Identity Politics, by Mary Eberstadt (Encounter Books): Anything Mary Eberstadt writes is worth reading — and doubly so when her latest exploration of our wounded culture worries a New York Times columnist.

Why Celibacy? Reclaiming the Fatherhood of the Priest, by Father Carter Griffin: A powerful explanation of an ancient tradition’s relevance for 21st-century Catholicism, which should have been a reference at the Amazonian synod but wasn’t.  Especially useful for seminarians but important reading regardless of your state of life in the Church.

The Gifted School, by Bruce Holsinger (Riverhead Books): A delicious send-up of bulldozer parents in a progressive town, but also (and perhaps unintentionally) a stark evocation of lives without God.

How Catholic Art Saved the Faith: The Triumph of Beauty and Truth in Counter-Reformation Art, by Elizabeth Lev (Sophia Institute Press): Liz Lev not only makes you see things you never saw before in a painting or a sculpture; she brilliantly explicates the meaning of what you’re seeing afresh.

And (if I may): The Irony of Modern Catholic History: How the Church Rediscovered Itself and Challenged the World to Reform (Basic Books): I hope you and those on your gift list enjoy reading it as I enjoyed writing it.

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About George Weigel 419 Articles
George Weigel is Distinguished Senior Fellow of Washington's Ethics and Public Policy Center, where he holds the William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies. He is the author of over twenty books, including Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II (1999), The End and the Beginning: Pope John Paul II—The Victory of Freedom, the Last Years, the Legacy (2010), and The Irony of Modern Catholic History: How the Church Rediscovered Itself and Challenged the Modern World to Reform. His most recent books are The Next Pope: The Office of Peter and a Church in Mission (2020), and Not Forgotten: Elegies for, and Reminiscences of, a Diverse Cast of Characters, Most of Them Admirable (Ignatius, 2021).


  1. I will get the book about Churchill, and may I add – Anything by P.G. Wodehouse. It is said that in the summer of 1938 Princess (soon to be Queen) Elizabeth’s summer reading consisted entirely of the work of P.G. Wodehouse, and that was the year of ‘Code of the Woosters’. My personal favorite is ‘Brinkley Manor’. Also recommended are the Mulliner stories, Blandings Castle and ‘The Story of Webster’ and ‘Honeysuckle Cottage’.

    I turn 76 today and – thanks to my dear departed dad – I have been reading Wodehouse for about 60 years and I am happy to report that the older I get the funnier he gets.

  2. Are there any good children’s books in the style of ‘Flat Stanley ‘ – some concern if same is in the category of the ‘ beast like a leopard’ that crawls in subtly , with contempt and scorn for human nature, a subtle resentment that one is not ‘flat ‘( and ? slithery ) and if there are hidden agendas , such as objectification of children , how kids can be sent off like postal matter , flat like no gender etc : etc as well too .
    Well, it can be seen also as a desire for more of an angelic nature or presence of guardian angels and their help etc : as well .

    Tomorrow , Feast of St.Lucy and just heard on EWTN how it is also the 50th anniv . of the Priestly ordination of the Holy Father ; – here is good book that helps to bring light and love into hearts and may the wisdom from on high , of The Mother help to strip the hearts of all false notions .
    God bless !

    • I cannot understand your comment at all – especially everything written after the words ‘Flat Stanley.’ Are you recommending that book (if it is a book)? Or suggesting that it is bad? Utterly baffling remarks. Can you clarify what you are saying (or asking)?

  3. In these days of the Nones (or worse) we need more books and films that might be read/viewed by so many who will not consider anything with a religious aura, but could be inspired to go deeper by something that isn’t explicitly religious. Along the lines of The Crown episodes recently reviewed on CWR by Bishop Barron, Terrence Mallick’s film A Hidden Life, the Mr. Rogers film. These works of art may not bring people all the way to faith but could provoke questions that open the door. We desperately need door openers!

    • Any book list from George Weigel comes with added gravitas. Thanks for publishing this and your own new book as well. I only read Witness to Hope in recent years after becoming Catholic thanks to John Paul II’s witness, and it was as if every page became one with his remarkable life.

      • Agree with your Analysis — was gifted with Witness To Hope, as my baby daughters Birthday is same as Pope John Paul’s Feast Day. This book is now in the Library of St Pete’s Church in Madison, WI. Now with Macular Degeneration, seems like purgatory to read these titles in double large print. On england’s poet, thompson, WAS: LOVE IS A MANY SPLENDORED THING — LOOK FOR ME IN THE NURSERY. AFTER READING THESE TITLES, LOOK FOR ME IN GOD’S LIBRARY!!

  4. Thank you for taking note ; it is asking for info , if there are other book series that do not sort of glorify a child who has seemingly lost his human nature and being used as an object ;
    also trying to find what may be the saving hidden grace , even in such books .

    Reading the scriptures in reparation , for any misuse of time by others too ,
    by reading damaging books could be a good measure too .

    Blessings !

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