Giant of the Western Trail

Book cover: 'Giant of the Western Trail'
Rev. Michael McHugh, S.J.

Pierre-Jean De Smet (1801-1873) was a beloved missionary in the American West who brought the Gospels and the Catholic Faith to many Indians as well as fighting for peace and justice for the Indians and those suffering from the Civil War. A substantial figure in American history, many may remember from the Little House Books that the city in South Dakota that the Ingalls settled in was named after this renowned priest.

Saint Ignatius and the Company of Jesus

Book cover: 'Saint Ignatius and the Company of Jesus'
August Derleth

Saint Ignatius of Loyola, the well-known saint/scholar, founder of the Jesuits and author of the Spiritual Exercises, was a surprisingly simple and humble man. Although he was rather arrogant and adventurous as a young soldier, a serious battle wound forced him into an extended bed rest. Restless and bored, he finally gave in to reading the only two books available to him - The Life of Our Saviour and The Lives of the Saints.

Red Hugh, Prince of Donegal

Book cover: 'Red Hugh, Prince of Donegal'
Robert T. Reilly

The true story of Hugh Roe O'Donnell, an Irish prince who fought the English Invaders at the time of Queen Elizabeth. This is a fast paced story - quite exciting and with a touch of romance. The hardships endured by Red Hugh, particularly during his imprisonment, are a bit graphic, but probably not too intense for mid-gradeschoolers and up. We are reminded of Red Hugh's faith when he asks the English to let him see a priest. The request is refused and the reader is introduced to the tactics of indoctrination, used to attempt to sway the hero from his Irish and Catholic loyalties.

A Man for All Seasons

Book cover: 'A Man for All Seasons'

This is a VERY well-done rendition of the story of St. Thomas More. Thomas More was a well-respected lawyer who was named Chancellor of England under King Henry VIII. He is a model statesman - modest, intelligent, and principled. He was martyred for not condoning the actions of the King toward the Catholic Church and his first wife. (Quite a refreshing contrast to modern-day politics!) I would suggest this for high school students as younger students (unless they are familiar with the story and accustomed to somewhat complex dialogue) may find it "boring".

Saint Thomas More of London

Book cover: 'Saint Thomas More of London'
Elizabeth Ince

An interesting and readable life of Thomas More (1477-1535): the great saint, scholar, father, lawyer, statesman, author, patriot and lover of the Church. The author, a descendant of Thomas More, has included many interesting details and anecdotes that bring this great man to life and help us better understand who he was. Even as an adult who became interested in St. Thomas More from the movie A Man for All Seasons, I found many tidbits that helped fill in the details not present in the movie - particularly regarding More's life before he became Chancellor of England.

How the Reformation Happened

Book cover: 'How the Reformation Happened'
Hilaire Belloc

This book is a surprisingly readable and interesting account of "How the Reformation Happened". Although it is written from a Catholic perspective, Mr. Belloc is very fair in dishing out the blame to the appropriate people on both sides. The years covered are 1517 (when Martin Luther affixed his protest against the Indulgences to a church door in Wittenberg, Germany) to 1648, but also includes commentary of the implications of the "Reformation" on our own times.

The Last Crusader: Isabella of Spain

Book cover: 'The Last Crusader: Isabella of Spain'
William Thomas Walsh

Queen Isabella (the Catholic) of Spain is one of the most influential and controversial women in history. She and her husband were responsible for supporting Columbus' voyages to the New World, the re-conquering of all of Spain from the Moors, the expulsion of the Jews, and the establishment of the Spanish Inquisition. Her daughter, Catherine of Aragon, was the unfortunate first wife of King Henry VIII of England (who founded the Anglican church because he didn't accept the Pope's refusal to grant him an annulment of his marriage to Catherine).


Book cover: 'Columbus'
Ingri and Edgar Parin D'Aulaire

This is another great biography by the D'Aulaire's. Well told and beautifully illustrated, this book will introduce you to Columbus' boyhood dreams, some of the reasons why he (and others) believed the earth was round, his early sailing days and interest in the tales of Leif Ericson, and of course the story of his family, his long quest for sponsorship of his desired trip and finally his voyages to America. Most adults don't know as much about Columbus as your children can learn from this story.

The Mystery of the Periodic Table

Book cover: 'The Mystery of the Periodic Table'
Benjamin Wiker

This new title from Bethlehem Books follows the tradition of Jeanne Bendick with her books on Archimedes and Galen by making scientific concepts accessible to ordinary people.

Thomas A. Edison: Young Inventor

Book cover: 'Thomas A. Edison: Young Inventor'
Sue Guthridge

This is a fascinating and often humorous story of one of the most renowned inventors of all time. As a boy, Edison was fascinated by the world around him and full of questions about everything. Although he had many mentors as a boy, his first grade teacher reacted so negatively to his natural curiosity that his mother took him out of school and taught him at home. His adventures involving chemistry, trains and printing newspapers make for enjoyable and interesting reading.


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