A wonderful, wise, prophetic, inspiring, maddening, and profound book.
The first major chapter details the Roman Catholic Church's attitude to the hermit life. It's thorough but somewhat repetitive. It lacks Merton's usual flair with language, and unfortunately equates "Church with "The Cistercians and other Catholic orders". There is much untranslated Latin, so some points in the logic are (for me at least) wholly wanting. But it's good.
The reall strength of the book lies in the long final chapter. It represents a magisterial analysis of why the hermit life fails so often, even when lived within the charism of monasticism, admittedly a typical enclosed monastery of the 1960s. Merton is prophetic in all senses, so the book is not so much dated in parts as proved right in those same parts. But much more is needed to enable the Spirit of God to work in and through those God chooses to live this essential life.
An important book, and probably growing in importance as the world hurtles away from godliness. A must read.