Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

American -- Witness to Freedom: The Letters of Thomas Merton in Times of Crisis Selected and Edited by William H. Shannon

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

American -- Witness to Freedom: The Letters of Thomas Merton in Times of Crisis Selected and Edited by William H. Shannon

Article excerpt

Witness to Freedom: The Letters of Thomas Merton in Times of Crisis. Selected and edited by William H. Shannon.

The Thomas Merton Letters Series,

(New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux. 1994. Pp. xiv, 352. $25.00.)

With Witness to Freedom, the ten-year project of the publication of Thomas Merton's correspondence draws to a close. This fifth volume of letters of the prolific Trappist completes a cycle that began with the publication of The Hidden Ground of Love in 1985 and continued through The Road to Joy (1989), The School of Charity (1990), and The Courage for Truth (1993). Like the first volume in 1985, this last one is excellently edited by Monsignor William H. Shannon, who also served as general editor of the series.

The most notable inclusion of writings in Witness to Freedom for most readers will be the "Cold War Letters" written by Merton during 1961-62 to a wide array of correspondents including Dorothy Day, Erich Fromm, Ethel Kennedy, and Clare Booth Luce. In all, there are 111 such dispatches that were put into mimeograph form and circulated for friendly eyes and hearts when some of the monk's monastic superiors objected to the publication of his controversial writings. As Merton put the situation at the time, "I am having a bit of censorship trouble" (p. …

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