Take a tinderbox and go steady with your canoe

John Bossy

  • The Jesuits: Missions, Myths and Histories by Jonathan Wright
    HarperCollins, 334 pp, £20.00, February 2004, ISBN 0 00 257180 3

Why is it so hard to write a decent history of the Jesuits? Perhaps the subject is too large; but people manage with other worldwide institutions, such as the British Empire or the Roman Church in general. Why would the Society of Jesus prove more tricky? Well, there is the long history of self-advertisement, which has sometimes seemed to be one of its special characteristics, and the equally long history of hostility and denigration; picking your way between the two is probably not the ideal method of getting hold of the real and substantial thing.

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