Few books have impacted the West as deeply as The City of God. Saint Augustine blazed trails not only in the realms of politics and philosophy, but in the life of the heart, exploring the relationship between a loving God and a shattered world. Thomas Aquinas, Charlemagne, John Calvin, Hannah Arendt, and Pope Benedict XVI alike have drawn from this text’s deep and varied wells.

Yet few of us will ever read the epic work, which often stretches past one thousand pages. This volume, however, offers a shorter, simpler road through Augustine’s masterpiece. Edited by Hans Urs von Balthasar, it presents key selections from The City of God, culled for their beauty and spiritual power, buttressed with notes, and arranged by theme—from the creation of the world to the Roman Empire, from human happiness to the nature of death.