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The Habit of a Lifetime.

The Habit of a Lifetime. (Tabb House. [pound]19.95.) In his |definitive' autobiography the gifted Father Brocard Sewell describes his several careers -- more varied than most men can claim to have pursued -- in all of which he achieved distinction. He does, however, also typically record some failures. In literature he has written sixteen memoirs or biographies, notably In the Dorian Mode, the life of the 1890s poet John Gray, and essays on Montague Summers and Olive Custance, the wife of Lord Alfred Douglas. In journalism he directed St. Albert's Press at Aylesford and edited the Aylesford Review. in monastic life he has lived in three major religious orders, the Austin Canons, Dominicans and Carmelites, suffering expulsion from Aylesford as the result of |controversy' with Cardinal Griffin and subsequently five years' exile in Canada at the time of the |Quebec Libre' upheavals. Four years in the war-time RAF complete the tally. He writes with crystal clarity on contemporary issues, emerging as a wise friend to many.

Idealism and Realism. (Ramblers' Association Services Ltd. [pound]2 inclusive p&p from Longcroft House, Fretherne Road, Welwyn Garden City, Herts. AL8 6PQ.) The remarkable success of the story of the growth of RAS is told with vigour and clarity by B.S. Roberson, the geographer who was one of the prime movers in its earliest days. He records its place in the history of popular foreign travel in over 45 years, from the immediate post-war |release' of adventurous people, through a successful foray into holidays by air, to one of the most soundly based travel firms in the UK, without losing anything of the comradely aim of its beginning. There is a lively reminder of its corps of volunteers, alongside attractive narratives of the ups and downs of former tours in Europe and many far-flung places, all carried out in the Ramblers' original exploratory spirit.

Michael Charlton, the widely-experienced foreign correspondent who has made himself an expert on Communist affairs, publishes some of his BBC interviews, in Footsteps from the Finland Station, Five Landmarks in the Collapse of Communism (Claridge Press. 1992. [pounds]16.95). Here, in their own words, senior Politburo officials, secret police, Roman Catholic Cardinals, Calvinist pastors and Party ideologists, tell from the inside the story of the system's collapse. It took thirty years -- from Nikita Khrushchev's secret speech to the Twentieth Party Congress in February 1956 (|The world we are building is a lie'). It was immensely aided by the election of a Polish Pope, with his special experience, intelligence and courage. This is a rich treasure house of opinions, analyses -- and verdicts.

Berlin! Berlin! Its Culture, Its Times. (Kyle Cathie Ltd. [pounds]18.99.) Many young Europeans know little of Berlin and its history. Michael Farr, chief Daily Telegraph correspondent in Germany from 1981 to |87, has written the right book to change that. He takes us from Berlin's unsung beginnings in medieval Brandenburg through the imperialist 1890s and the glamorous city of the 1920s.
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Publication:Contemporary Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Nov 1, 1992
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