I’ve long admired the work of historian James Hitchcock of St. Louis University, especially his incisive lectures on the history of Vatican II. It’s been my hope that he’d write more books, as most of his work consists of essays and reviews. That’s why I’m excited by his forthcoming History of the Catholic Church: From the Apostolic Age of the New Millennium, available December 10 from Ignatius Press. I’d like to think I’ll suggest someone get it for me for Christmas, but, given my eagerness and impatience, I probably won’t wait that long. Take a look at the lavish praise the work has received from some Church heavyweights in the ‘blurbs posted by Ignatius.

The Catholic Church is the longest-enduring institution in the world. Beginning with the first Christians and continuing in our present day, the Church has been planted in every nation on earth.

The Catholic Church claims Jesus Christ himself as her founder, and in spite of heresy from within and hostility from without, she remains in the twenty-first century the steadfast guardian of belief in his life, death, and resurrection. The teachings and redemptive works of Jesus as told in the Gospels are expressed by the Church in a coherent and consistent body of doctrine, the likes of which cannot be found in any other Christian body.

The history of the Catholic Church is long, complicated, and fascinating, and in this book it is expertly and ably told by historian James Hitchcock. As in the parable of Christ about the weeds that were sown in a field of wheat, evil and good have grown together in the Church from the start, as Hitchcock honestly records. He brings before us the many characters-some noble, some notorious-who have left an indelible mark on the Church, while never losing sight of the saints, who have given living testimony to the salvific power of Christ in every age.

This ambitious work is comprehensive in its scope and in incisive in its understanding, a valuable addition to any school or home library.