PositiveThe Guardian (UK)As in all the best memoirs, [Hough] isn’t afraid to tackle uncomfortable or inane questions ...This is not, though, only a book for those wanting to go backstage in the classical music world. Hough offers thoughts on all sorts of things from architecture to picture restoration. Some of his most countercultural musings, however, come over religion ... [Rough Ideas] is one to dip into, but the sum seems greater than the parts, which, if you get to the end of Rough Ideas, you might conclude is also true of the man who wrote them.
RaveIndependent (UK)The Art of Political Murder is an account of the battle to bring the bishop\'s murderers to justice. It is told from the inside, working with those in the archdiocesan human rights office who have made it their business to nail the culprits. It reads (and is categorised by its publishers) as \'true crime,\' but in the hands of a subtle and fired-up author, this is a book that exposes the corrupt, brutal and ruthless political climate that the US has spent so many decades and so many millions of dollars maintaining in Central America ... a hugely impressive account: passionate, involving and profoundly moving ... What lingers most from this important book is the consequences of the rest of the world\'s ignorance.
RaveThe Sunday Times (UK)...a different, time-honoured and inspiring take on the role of scripture ... scripture was never intended, [Armstrong] insists, as the last word, something sealed for all time, immutable and inviolable. Instead it was always understood as a work in progress, something revered as a way, above all, of conveying meaning about the human condition ... Armstrong is on good form in The Lost Art of Scripture. It exhibits her well-known and admired characteristics as a writer: an ability to be both authoritative on all the major faiths, and studiedly neutral as to which offers the best solutions/worst failings; a reasoned insistence that religion today is misunderstood, as much by the religious as by their critics; and a passionate appeal to our fractious and fractured world to embrace religion’s core message, its \'golden rule\' of compassion and respect for others. It makes for a compelling read, impressive in the range of its scholarship, but always cogently expressed for those prepared to commit to the search to understand.
RaveThe Sunday Times (UK)With consummate skill, [Barton] sets about distilling what feels like a lifetime of study and scholarly conversations on the subject into a single, open-minded, lucid guide to the Bible. As eminently readable as the best of travelogues, it floods with light a subject too often regarded by many as a closed book ... With emotional and psychological insight, Barton unlocks this sleeping giant of our culture for the untrained but curious general reader. In the process, he has produced a masterpiece.
PositiveThe GuardianDespite its familiar title, MacGregor’s new offering is not just the book version of last year’s Living With the Gods exhibition of religious objects at the British Museum (and the accompanying Radio 4 series). Instead, he broadens out the core idea he explored there—that a religious past defines who we are now, regardless of our own attachment or not to faith institutions—to apply it to the present and future of a world scarred by conflicts that have religion at their heart ... Through often very specific objects, he manages as effortlessly and magisterially as we have come to expect from him to deliver a siren warning of the dangers of sidelining the gods to a comprehensive audience.