Doctor Zhivago
Boris Pasternak (Pantheon)

If you are under forty, the odds are pretty good that you have not read Pasternak's great novel, a cause célèbre in its own day, at the height of the cold war. This new translation by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky provides an occasion to discover (or rediscover) one of the indispensable books of the 20th century. It is a poet's novel—that shapes every aspect of the book—and at its heart is a vision of life that draws deeply on Christianity and yet is clearly distinct from the orthodox (and Orthodox) faith. For dessert, watch the 1965 movie version.

The Cambridge Companion To Science and Religion
Edited by Peter Harrison (Cambridge University Press)

Both the strengths and weaknesses of the science-and-religion conversation are reflected in this volume. Peter Harrison is himself a superb scholar, and he provides a fine introductory essay after having assembled a lineup of distinguished contributors. While they represent a variety of perspectives, they generally reject the notion that science and religion are implacable foes. So far, so good. Nevertheless, there are recurring irritations—most notably, an anxiety on the part of Christian scholars to tidy God up and make him presentable. Under the guise of a more expansive conception, we are given a God who—wonder of wonders!—neatly fits the prescriptions of early 21st-century academics.

The Man with the Baltic Stare
James Church (Minotaur/St. Martin's)

North Korea is in the news—again. For an unfamiliar angle on that vexed subject, try the fourth novel about Inspector O (yes, O). "James Church, a pseudonym," the back flap tells us, "is a former Western intelligence officer with decades of experience in Asia." The accompanying photo, taken at night, shows a bearded man, much of his face concealed by the brim of his hat, lighting a pipe. Whoever he is, James Church has a sense of humor—and a take on life in North Korea that's different from anything else I've seen though his cynicism about Christians is all too familiar.

Related Elsewhere:

Doctor Zhivago, The Cambridge Companion to Science and Religion, and The Man with the Baltic Stare are available from and other retailers.

John Wilson is editor of Books & Culture, a Christianity Today sister publication.

Other Bookmarks and reviews are in our books section.

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