Nicholas Reid

James Michael Liston: A Life

ISBN: 9780864735362

The full and richly illustrated biography of one of the most important figures in New Zealand church – and general – history.

When James Michael Liston died at the age of 95 on 8 July 1976, he had been a Catholic priest for 72 years. Coadjutor-Bishop of Auckland from 1920 to 1929 and bishop in his own right from 1929 to 1970, he was the leader of New Zealand’s most populous Catholic diocese for half a century, and was the recipient of many New Zealand and international honours.

Nicholas Reid’s biography gives a full account of Liston’s work within the New Zealand church, and his huge contribution to its development.

It also pays frank and fascinating attention to the controversial aspects of his career. The first of these is his early commitment to the cause of Irish independence, and his trial for sedition in 1922.

The second is the tension that arose around his conservative opinions and personal style towards the end of his very long career, when, as Michael King wrote, ‘Liston’s growing conservatism and “creeping infallibility” imposed stress on his colleagues and the priests of his diocese’.

Praise for James Michael Liston: A Life

Named one of the Listener's Best Books 2006
This is a major text, an important text; it’s a fascinating, intelligent and well-written example of religious scholarship at its best…. This fine work makes clear… Liston is a major figure in New Zealand history, not just a major figure within Catholic history; his influence extended into the worlds of politics, education and public culture….

Mike Grimshaw LISTENER

Reid writes beautifully… one of the many things I liked about the book is the fact that Reid writes so well and yet manages to get a high fact count on nearly every page. Not every writer can do that. I admired too the fact that he doesn’t shy away from darker matters….
Warwick Roger NORTH & SOUTH

Reid's research is excellent and, though he could not make me like Old Black Joe, he paints a convincing portrait of an often disliked man who had his tender moments, and who, after political gaffes in the 20s, settled down to become a competent, respected leader.

Nicholas Reid has produced a superbly crafted picture of a complex personality, managing to hold the reader’s interest by portraying even ecclesiastical trivia as manifestations of its subject's peculiar energies. This is the sort of biography that Anthony Trollope might have written, but even the chronicler of Barchester would hardly have invented Bishop Liston
Ged Martin THE ROUND TABLE ( England)

To read this excellent biography is to see unfolding for the first time the full life of this remarkable man. The author has presented in exhaustive detail the story of James liston’s 95 years. Great research has been undertaken, and when faced with controversy both sides of the case are presented without passing judgment, the author remaining ever objective…. It’s a fine study.
Des McCarthy Tui Motu

Reid’s meticulous research into the life and times of its subject has produced a book that is both highly informative and very readable… Nicholas Reid provides a thoroughly satisfying account of the 1922 trial for sedition, as he does with all the other contentious and difficult issues faced by the good bishop during his half-century association with the Auckland Diocese.
Bernie Hehir WEL-COM

The composition of style of this book is a model of what a biography should be. It is lucid, objective, comprehensive and impartial in its presentation of a remarkable personality and a worthy pastor.
Bishop John Mackey NZ Catholic

The author Nicholas Reid has taught history in secondary schools and is currently a teaching fellow at the University of Otago. He was the Stout Research Centre Fellow in 2004, and is well known as a book and film reviewer.

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