Magazine April 6, 2009, Issue

Shelf Life

(Carlo Allegri/Reuters)

One of Chesterton’s most frequently quoted jokes was his answer to the question, Which book would you most want to have on a desert island? He said, “Thomas’s Guide to Practical Ship-building”—and there was much of his personality in the remark: wit, of course, but also a rather obtrusively self-complimentary insistence on his own commonsensical attitude toward life.

Msgr. Ronald Knox (1888–1957)—the great man of letters and Catholic convert who became one of the leading apologists of the 20th century— was influenced by Chesterton in many ways, and his approach to the same question was likewise revealing. According to David Rooney’s

In This Issue



Books, Arts & Manners


Shelf Life

According to David Rooney’s new guide to Knox’s works, the book Knox wanted on the desert island was a Bradshaw railway schedule, next to the Bible.


The Week

The Week

Somebody should advise the suave diplomats in the Obama administration that the most reassuring symbol of U.S.-Russia relations isn't a big red button.
Happy Warrior

Old School

Maybe the president can spend enough of our money to halt the degradation of infrastructure. The degradation of citizenship will prove harder to reverse.