PositiveThe Atlantic... a smart book for the general reader ... It is hardly Douglas Boin’s fault that the balance in his narrative between \'the man\' and \'his times\' is no balance at all. The scales tilt heavily toward Alaric’s times—a rich subject in its own right—and Boin renders the confusion of the era without replicating that confusion in his prose. Alaric can never emerge as a fully three-dimensional figure, but in Boin’s hands he is lifted convincingly from the realm of brutish caricature ... not a polemic. It never invokes modern times explicitly. But the linguistic anachronisms are inescapable. Intended perhaps to be slyly allusive, they come across as winks.
Bart D. Ehrman
PositiveAir Mail[Ehrman] is a fine writer who shuns theological jargon and knows how to bring himself, very occasionally, into the story ... Ehrman bears no animus toward religion—not for him the snark and dudgeon of a Richard Dawkins. He does not accept the visions of the afterlife he explores, but rendering a verdict is not his task. His aim is to describe how the ideas arose, and to show that the impulse behind them is rooted in our earthly lives.
PositiveAir MailPilgrimages are by nature unpredictable and picaresque. The days unfold. The weather changes. Plains give way to mountains. The past is everywhere present—centuries, millennia. Every few miles yields a chance conversation with a stranger. Many episodes prompt excursions by Egan into reflections on religion, theology, the inner life. These are not his truest gift. His greater gift lies in recounting the episodes themselves—where serendipity has brought him ... Sometimes in A Pilgrimage to Eternity, Egan really is just kidding. And sometimes he is not.