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A fascinating, fair-minded depiction of Archbishop Rowan Williams.
Rowan Williams is a complex and controversial figure. Widely revered for his personal qualities, he is also an intellectual giant who towers over almost all his predecessors as Archbishop of Canterbury. Among other achievements, he has trounced the atheist Richard Dawkins, and published over twenty well-regarded books, including several volumes of poetry and a major study of Dostoevsky.
Yet he is also one of the most reviled church leaders in modern history. Long before facing calls to step down after his lecture on sharia law in early 2008, he had been accused of heresy on account of his pro-gay views. He has disappointed many of his own supporters as well. So how has high office changed Rowan Williams? Has he been bullied and manipulated? Or is he perhaps playing a long game, obliged to rate church unity above the pursuit of his own vision at a time when the Anglican Communion has never looked more unstable?
Rupert Shortt, already the author of an acclaimed introduction to the Archbishop's thought, offers answers to these and other questions in this authoritative biography. He explores how the events of the Archbishop's remarkable life have shaped his beliefs and practices today. Of particular interest is the riveting account of Williams's experience near the World Trade Center towers on the morning of September 11, 2001. Written with Williams's cooperation, Rowan's Rule not only elucidates his ideas but gives a compelling portrait of a private and in some ways surprisingly vulnerable man.
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Rupert Shortt is religion editor of The Times LiterarySupplement and a visiting fellow of Blackfriars Hall,University of Oxford. His other books include Rowan'sRule: The Biography of the Archbishop of Canterburyand God's Advocates: Christian Thinkers inConversation. He lives in London.,Review:
The Sunday Times
"Written with the Archbishop's cooperation, this excellent biography of the Primate of all England is theologically heavyweight, psychologically perceptive, and sometimes strikingly critical. Indeed, the fact that Rowan Williams has cooperated with such a warts-and-all portrait tells you a great deal about him."
"An eminently fair-minded biography. . . . Rupert Shortt is exceptionally qualified for the task he has taken on."
John Habgood, former Archbishop of York
"A major piece of work, as acute and well-informed politically as it is theologically. The sympathetic portrait of Rowan Williams as a profound and inspiring man of God is not allowed to hide his practical and political weaknesses and inconsistencies, nor the inevitable conflicts between personal belief and public policy. Rupert Shortt is to be congratulated for this timely assessment of a remarkable, gifted, and much-maligned leader."
John Austin Baker in Church Times
"This biography is timely and welcome. . . . We can be grateful for a work that is strong on empathy, but also balanced and fair in its judgments. The style is eminently readable, without ever being trite."
A. N. Wilson in The Times Literary Supplement
"Rupert Shortt's book triumphantly justifies itself. This is not just an instant biography of someone who happens to be in the news. It is a serious and learned book with a specific theme. That theme is the survival of Christianity in our midst. . . . The voice of Rowan Williams is, for many of us, a very attractive one, and Rupert Shortt has explained why."
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