I recently had the pleasure of reading Fr. Alfred McBride's The Story of the Church (Revised Edition). Rather than presenting the history in a dry manner that offers a litany of names, facts and dates, the history of the church is presented in a rather engaging manner. Fr. McBride uses fictional narratives, short plays, diary entries and interviews to explain pivotal moments in the Church's history. The book illustrates how the Church has changed over time to adapt to the world around her, but at the same time has essentially remained constant.
The book is separated into four parts, Early Church, Middle Ages, Reformation and Modern Church. Each part is preceded by a time line that highlights events in the secular world and events in the Catholic Church. Within each section, there are multiple chapters that delve into the key events in Church history. Each chapter features a brief narrative or in some cases a fictional writing that explains the period and how the church related to the secular world. Immediately following that, is a section called "Looking Back" that explains the preceding section in further detail. It is in this portion that Fr. McBride hits on the historical facts. It is followed by a section on how the history relates to us today. At the end of each chapter there are discussion points. In the margins of the book, you'll often find grey boxes (an aside, if you will) that contain facts that expand on information mentioned in the text.
The book is an easy and engaging read. The introduction for this book makes it clear that the focus is on about 30 of the pivotal moments in the history of the Catholic Church. At 310 pages long, you can't expect the book to cover everything that has happened in twenty one centuries. So essentially this book is a highlight reel of history that illustrates beautifully how the Church is still relevant and will continue to be in the future.
As a reviewer for The Catholic Company, I was given a copy of The Story of the Church in exchange for my honest review.