American Storyteller: Ahmari’s “The Unbroken Thread”
Sohrab Ahmari was born in Tehran and, at 13, immigrated with his family to the United States. After law school, he established himself as a journalist in London and New York, and in 2016 converted to the Catholic faith. He currently serves as opinion editor of the New York Post.
His fourth book, The Unbroken Thread, is an achievement in scholarship, journalism, and entertainment. As befits his impressive résumé, Mr. Ahmari writes here as journalist, historian, and biographer. Somewhat reminiscent of William J. Bennett’s The Book of Virtues, Ahmari’s book is a series of illustrative stories each of which answers one of a dozen questions such as: “How do you justify your life?” (the first question); and “What’s good about death?” (appropriately, the last).
In each case, the answer is presented through the life story of someone who lived the answer. Unlike Bennett’s bestseller, this is not a collection of stories from many sources, but a dozen short biographies by Ahmari that send the reader on a journey, as the book’s subtitle puts it, Discovering the Wisdom of Tradition in an Age of Chaos.
Among those whose lives and wisdom are described are Confucius, Socrates, the Stoics, Tertullian, St. Augustine, Abraham Joshua Heschel, and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. Of special interest to readers of The Catholic Thing are Ahmari’s considerations of the life and example of St. Maximilian Kolbe, after whom the author and his wife have named their son, and St. John Henry Newman. I’ll come to them later.