By any measure, this is a remarkable volume. It is not simply a translation, with commentary, of passages from Albert the Great and Thomas Aquinas on prayer, the contemplative life, the ideal of the theologian, the religious life or mystical theology. It is really two books in one. For there is also, and with much originality, an unravelling of the tangled sources of the life of Albert and a pruning, at times ruthless, of some traditional accounts of that of Thomas.
The selection of passages for translation is adroit. The translations are deft and the annotations scholarly. As an introduction to the lives and spiritual teaching of two of the greatest Dominican authors of the Middle Ages, Father Tugwell's work here is easily the most clear-headed and stimulating in English, or indeed in any language.