Rev. William B. Neenan, SJ
Bernard Lewis' The Crisis of Islam is a primer explaining the convoluted historical roots of Muslim animosity toward the West. How did the Islamic world, so dominant and self-confident for a thousand years and more, come to find itself beleaguered by a secular West? How has this vulnerability contributed to a newly militant Islam? Lewis, as one informed observer, offers his answers to these questions.
Raw courage is the staple of Hampton Sides' Ghost Soldiers. In the waning days of World War II, 120 US Army Rangers slipped behind Japanese lines in the Philippines to rescue 500 survivors of the 1942 Bataan Death March. It is a breath-taking tale of derring-do.
Two novels join this year's Dean's List. The protagonists in both are teenagers and the locale in each is similar, Long Island and a life raft, each surrounded by water. But otherwise they are quite distinct. Theresa, in Alice McDermott's Child of My Heart, is a precocious girl who sprinkles her conversation with quotations from Shakespeare and Thomas Hardy. During her 15th summer, Theresa finds time to nurture her young cousin, Daisy, entrance a brood of young urchins, while working in a fling with an aging artist - all detailed in graceful prose in this coming-of-age novel.
Piscine Patel, or Pi (the 16th letter in the Greek alphabet), is a 16-year-old boy sailing with his family from India to Canada until a shipwreck finds him adrift on a raft in the Pacific Ocean alone with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. Unlike Theresa's more familiar activities, Yann Martel's Life of Pi is replete with one exotic exploit after another during Pi's 227 days at sea. Finally, Pi safely ensconced in Toronto, we are left to wonder what exactly did happen during those days on that raft.
Two novels, two teen-agers, and experiences that suggest that life unfolds in profoundly complex and unpredictable ways. In other words, two novels that offer us the possibility of mystery and of hope.
The 2003 Dean's List
(New additions in bold)
James Agee, A Death in the Family
Kingsley Amis, Lucky Jim
George Bernanos, Diary of a Country Priest
Robert Bolt, A Man For All Seasons
Albert Camus, The Fall
Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
Graham Greene, The End of the Affair
Seamus Heaney, Beowulf
Etty Hillesum, An Interrupted Life
Laura Hillenbrand, Seabiscuit: An American Legend
Sebastian Junger, The Perfect Storm
Bernard Lewis, The Crisis of Islam
Yann Martel, Life of Pi
David McCullough, Truman
Alice McDermott, Child of My Heart
Charles Morris, American Catholic: The Saints and Sinners Who Built America's Most Powerful Church
Henri Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal Son
John O'Malley, SJ, The First Jesuits
Jaroslav Pelikan, Jesus Through the Centuries
Michael Shaara, The Killer Angels
Hampton Sides, Ghost Soldiers
Dava Sobel, Galileo's Daughter
Wallace Stegner, Collected Short Stories
Sigrid Undset, Kristin Lavransdatter
Robert Penn Warren, All the King's Men
Garry Wills, Saint Augustine
Simon Winchester, River at the Center of the World
All books featured in the Dean's List are available through the Boston College Libraries.
Fr. Neenan is vice president and special assistant to the president. He has published his "Dean's List" of recommended books since 1982.
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