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  • Author recounts unconventional life of 16th-century Italian noblewoman

    "Renaissance Woman: The Life of Vittoria Colonna" by Ramie Targoff. Farrar, Straus and Giroux (New York, 2018). 342 pp., $30. With "Renaissance Woman," Ramie Targoff, a professor of English and co-chair of Italian studies at Brandeis University, offers readers not only an intimate portrayal of the life of Vittoria Colonna (1492-1547), but a wide-ranging and detailed background to her life.

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  • 'Bird's-eye view' of famed evangelist chronicles his strengths, flaws

    "Billy Graham: An Ordinary Man and His Extraordinary God" by Lon Allison. Paraclete Press (Brewster, Mass., 2018). 157pp., $21.99. The Rev. Billy Graham was just shy of his 100th birthday when he died last November. His death meant the loss of one of America's best-known Christian leaders. He was widely respected and dedicated to an evangelical ministry that ultimately found him preaching to large gatherings in some 185 nations.

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  • Book on Ignatian pilgrimage offers much for travelers, stay-at-homes

    "On the Ignatian Way: A Pilgrimage in the Footsteps of St. Ignatius of Loyola" by Jose Luis Iriberri, SJ, Chris Lowney and others. Ignatius Press (San Francisco, 2018). 206 pp., $17.95. If you've ever made a pilgrimage, or you wish to, then this book will interest you. It answers the question: What can a pilgrimage do for me?

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  • History of papacy needs to be read with critical eye

    "Absolute Power: How the Pope Became the Most Influential Man in the World" by Paul Collins. PublicAffairs (New York, 2018). 367 pp, $28. Early in "Absolute Power," Paul Collins says 1799 "was probably the lowest point in the history of the papacy." What follows is a look at Catholic history as shaped by world affairs, the institution of the papacy and its power, and how the successors of St. Peter from the early 19th century through Pope Francis have used that power.

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  • Sociologists refute stereotypes about religious views toward science

    "Religion vs. Science: What Religious People Really Think" by Elaine Howard Ecklund & Christopher P. Scheitle. Oxford University Press (New York, 2018). 224 pp., $29.95. If you think religion and science are mortal enemies in the United States, this book might change your mind. Based on extensive research across a wide swath of religious perspectives, it shows that the relationship between religion and science is much friendlier -- and also more complex -- than one might have imagined.

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