A Canticle for Leibowitz

A Canticle for Leibowitz

by Walter M. Miller, Jr.

Review by Sarah Reisert

In Miller’s version of the future, humanity practically destroyed itself with the advent of nuclear weapons in the twentieth century.  This book is comprised of three separate jumps in time (each about six hundred years apart, starting about six hundred years from the nuclear holocaust) in the company of the Albertian Order of Leibowitz, brothers in the southwestern United States devoted to preserving knowledge in a world that now doesn’t trust it.

Monastic life may remain very much the same over the centuries, but the world changes around it: information once shunned is sought, machines once feared are rebuilt, and humanity (naturally) fails to learn its most important lesson.  “Is the species congenitally insane, brother?” asks one of the abbots.  It’s a very solid question, even now when we’ve had enough restraint to not blow ourselves up for seventy years.  The religious angle is a fascinating one, especially in the third section.

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About the reviewer: Sarah Reisert is a young museum professional who believes you should never be without a book in your purse.  If pressed to pick a favorite genre, she’d answer ‘All of them.’

This review was originally part of the 50th Anniversary Book Challenge.