FYI - The Amazon page for this book says Jan 14, 2020 as the release date, but both Netgalley and Goodreads have Oct 9, 2019. So I have no idea.
Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley.
The Golden Legend details the lives of various saints, including in many cases those of martyrs. The accuracy of the stories, in many cases, is a matter of the faith of the reader, but the theme is one of never renouncing one’s faith. Saints stories are not told that much anymore. But Revd Butler-Gallie’s book is in many ways, a modern version of those books like the Golden Legend. The main difference being is that there is factual support for each person and it is a hagiography. Though it is easy to say that in many ways the people in this book stand true for the true (and best) tenants of faith.
Butler-Gallie starts with religious opposition to the Nazis and fascism, but the ending section focuses on those who took part in the Civil Rights Movement. The focus there is on people other than Dr. King.
The book presents the people chronological and in terms of country. While the majority of the people discussed are priests or other male religious figures (hence the title), there are a few religious women as well – including a smoking nun and a member of a royal family. Many of the priests too were aided by women who are also detailed in those respected chapters. Additionally, the focus is on Europe and America, not surprising with the focus on Fascism.
Those limitations aside, the book is good. Butler-Gallie’s writing style is engaging, and he does not check his humor at the door. Don’t worry, it is in good taste, but the use of humor at times is necessary to light what might otherwise be a rather dark book (the good guys don’t always win). The writing style keeps the reader’s attention, and the book flows quite quickly. In many ways, it feels as if you are attending a lecture on the various people being given by Revd Butler-Gallie. He gives information about the lives of the various people prior to either joining the religious lives or the events that them a resister. Additionally, if there are aspects of character, such as some of the Catholic priests may not have been celibate, it is not hidden but addressed.
The digital ARC I received had few photos, and I found myself wishing there had been a bit more. However, the book does include an excellent further reading section.