Joan C. McDonald. Tom Merton: A Personal Biography. ISBN-13: 978-087462-016-0 & ISBN-10: 0-87462-016-3. 468 pages. Hardcover. Illustrated. $37.

This is the biography of Thomas Merton that tells us for the first time about Merton as he wanted us to know him. He provided that this very personal story, faithfully recorded in his journals, be shared with his readers 25 years after his death. Here we meet Merton, first as Tom, then as Thomas Merton the writer, both before and after The Seven Storey Mountain. We see the all too human fellow traveler we have come to know, as he climbs the final mountain of his life. Kanchenjunga mountain was a symbol of this journey.

Merton reveals his hopes and his dreams against the backdrop of an incredibly turbulent period of social change that both frightened and energized him. We witness his love of the rich Cistercian tradition and his adjustment to its evolving practices following Vatican II. He interacts with some of the most notable international figures of his time, and he confides to us the difficulties he had in everyday relationships.

This is the first biography that presents a detailed picture with photographs and other illustrations, never before published in other works, of events significant to him, along with a comprehensive publishing history within the context of his personal life.

Joan Carter McDonaldJoan Carter McDonald (M.A., Tulane; post-graduate work, George Washington University, Washington, D.C.) has held research, writing, and management positions with the US Federal Government in Washington and in Germany, including appointment to the US Senior Executive Service. She has devoted the past six years to full-time research of Merton’s life and message.

A lifelong Catholic, she attended the Catholic University of America and St. Louis University as an undergraduate student.


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