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Longleaf Combined University Press Titles Fall/Winter 2020

American Catholic
The Politics of Faith During the Cold War
By (author): D. G. Hart
D. G. Hart


Cornell University Press



Product Form:


Form detail:

Paper over boards
Hardcover , Paper over boards


General Trade : Age (years) 18
Oct 15, 2020
$40.95 CAD


9.1in x 6 x 0.9 in | 500 gr

Page Count:

280 pages
Cornell University Press
RELIGION / Christianity / Catholic
Roman Catholicism, Roman Catholic Church|Central / national / federal government|History of the Americas

American Catholic places the rise of the United States' political conservatism in the context of ferment within the Roman Catholic Church. How did Roman Catholics shift from being perceived as un-American to emerging as the most vocal defenders of the United States as the standard bearer in world history for political liberty and economic prosperity? D. G. Hart charts the development of the complex relationship between Roman Catholicism and American conservatism, and shows how these two seemingly antagonistic ideological groups became intertwined in advancing a certain brand of domestic and international politics.

Contrary to the standard narrative, Roman Catholics were some of the most assertive political conservatives directly after World War II, and their brand of politics became one of the most influential means by which Roman Catholicism came to terms with American secular society. It did so precisely as bishops determined the church needed to update its teaching about its place in the modern world. Catholics grappled with political conservatism long before the supposed rightward turn at the time of the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973.

Hart follows the course of political conservatism from John F. Kennedy, the first and only Roman Catholic president of the United States, to George W. Bush, and describes the evolution of the church and its influence on American politics. By tracing the roots of Roman Catholic politicism in American culture, Hart argues that Roman Catholicism's adaptation to the modern world, whether in the United States or worldwide, was as remarkable as its achievement remains uncertain. In the case of Roman Catholicism, the effects of religion on American politics and political conservatism are indisputable.

D. G. Hart is Associate Professor of History at Hillsdale College. He is the author of Damning Words and Calvinism. Follow him on Twitter @Oldlife.

American Catholic explores in greater depth how the Catholic and political strands of history are intertwined, and I think it is especially important and notable that D.G. Hart, a historian who is not among the 'usual suspects' working on US Catholic history, takes on this task.

- James McCartin, author of Prayers of the Faithful

The story of midcentury American political life is to a surprising extent the story?or stories?of a handful of brilliantly original Catholic writers and thinkers. They're all vibrantly present in D. G. Hart's important and illuminating book and so are the arguments, debates, and quarrels that continue to shape our country's clash of ideologies and faiths.

- Sam Tanenhaus, author of Death of Conservatism

D. G. Hart does something new in American Catholic: he takes theology seriously. Hart weaves a creative argument about Catholic conservatives, showing how, in moving the United States to the right, they helped liberalize the church?a compelling irony that deepens our understanding of the American right.

- Nicole Hemmer, author of Messengers of the Right and cohost of the podcast Past Present 

D. G. Hart's American Catholic is a lucid assessment of how postwar conservative Catholic intellectuals reconciled loyalties to nation and church. Hart offers new insights into familiar figures and charts the disorienting effects of the last decade with aplomb.

- John T. McGreevy, author of Catholicism and American Freedom

Hart observes that Catholic conservatism got its voice in the 1960s: William F. Buckley, Brent Bozell, and then later Michael Novak, John Neuhaus, and finally George Weigel made Catholicism truly American.

- Choice

Hart's study is a thoughtful, well-researched account of the growing influence of Catholicism within American conservatism. A valuable addition to the literature.

- Journal of Church and State

The story American Catholic tells has many layers and draws together two intellectual traditions?Catholic political theology and movement conservatism?that may be unfamiliar to many readers.[H]his writing style is lucid and engaging, and his argument is worthy of serious engagement.

- Modern Reformation

American Catholic takes readers on a thrilling ride, full of twists and turns; it traces gradual slides into fresh conservative paradigms followed by abrupt reversals. In tracing this trajectory, D. G. Hart has provided an important intellectual history. This book is a highly readable text that moves the reader efficiently and effectively through a complex, multilayered narrative.

- Church History

In American Catholic, D. G. Hart, a prolific historian of American Protestantism at Hillsdale College, offers a penetrating look at the evolution of Catholic political thought in the United States. [T]his book is a richly informed and well-written intellectual history.

- Journal of American History

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