Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

The American Jesuits: A History

Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

The American Jesuits: A History

Article excerpt

THE AMERICAN JESUITS: A HISTORY by Raymond A. Schroth, SJ. New York University Press, 368 pages, $29.95

Father Raymond Schroth, S.J., has written a strange and strangely unsatisfactory book. Tided The American Jesuits, it is neither comprehensive, nor thematically coherent, nor notable for any originality of insight, and it reads less like a true history than an apologia for the progressive direction taken by the Society of Jesus in die years following the second Vatican Council.

Schroth's apologia is historical in form, if quirkily so. Its four parts correspond to chronological divisions spanning the five centuries from the arrival of Jesuit missionaries to the present, although the author's treatment of each period is not systematic but anecdotal and didactic. The serious reader will be dismayed by the lack of any scholarly apparatus. There are endnotes given for each chapter, but these simply mention the sources that the author consulted without page references or checkable citations.

Schroth writes with lucidity and has an ear for the telling quotation. The pages devoted to the changes in Jesuit higher education prior to the second World War are particularly interesting. …

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