This book is a “You Are There” approach to a portion of the Second World War, specifically the decisive years of 1942–1943. While referencing the events which are part of well-recorded history, Fr. Rutler gives a monthly commentary on them, drawn from letters, newspapers, and journals. This information might well have been lost, especially as most of these documents are rare and, having been printed on rationed paper, are deteriorating.
Besides the concern for generally unknown details of people and events, the book presses the theme that “the Second World War can rightly be understood and probably only fully appreciated as a holy war fought for multiple and mixed motives, but in its deepest meaning as a campaign against evil by defenders, consciously or obliviously, of the good.” While its principle focus is on the way the Catholic Church confronted enemies of humanity, a wide variety of institutions and colorful characters find a place.
Of particular interest, and perhaps something of a revelation, are insights into the personalities who played their parts in this titanic spiritual combat: saints and sinners, the famous as well as those who are forgotten today and who were little known even then. A message to be learned is that human nature never changes, and that the test of character in the struggles of the world’s greatest war is a litmus for how we should and should not behave in the challenges of our own generation