Taking up where Merton's own Seven Storey Mountain ends, this penetrating biography by Lawrence Cunningham explores Merton's monastic life and his subsequent growth into a modern-day spiritual master. Though the basic story of Thomas Merton's life may be well known, the details of his spiritual development are less familiar. Cunningham shows that Merton's prolific writings and his continuing influence can only be understood against the background of his contemplative experience as a Trappist monk. "If one does not understand Merton as a monk," writes Cunningham, "one does not understand Merton at all." Merton emerges from this balanced and reliable account as an extraordinary Christian seeker and pioneer whose faith in the power of the contemplative life remains highly relevant today.