Book Review Roundup and VA Festival of the Book Panel

Concept Cover Art for Excommunicated from the Union (2015), by William Kurtz.Since the publication of my book in December 2015, a number of new reviews have come out praising it as a contribution to both Catholic and Civil War history. While I have already posted Dr. Randall Miller and Dr. George Rable’s praise, here are several more recent positive reviews.

Max Longley, author of For the Union and the Catholic Church (2015) writes:

“William Kurtz’s intensive research has produced a book which puts forward a fascinating thesis about American Catholic history. Kurtz shows how, in the early years of the American Civil War, Northern Catholics experienced the tantalizing prospect of being accepted as fellow-citizens by the dominant Protestants. Northern Protestants were impressed by the valor of Catholic soldiers, the piety and courage of Catholic chaplains, and the self-sacrifice of nuns who nursed the wounded from both sides and of all religions. But in Kurtz’s telling, this initial period of good relations was a false dawn. Protestant opinion grew more sour toward Catholics as the war went on. Controversies over the war and slavery split the Catholic Church in the North into factions, with a numerous group of Northern Catholics opposing emancipation and resisting the war effort. In the wake of all this, many Northern Protestants resumed their traditional suspicions of the Church. Catholics after the war faced this revived Protestant hostility. This excellent book would be great for Civil War buffs and those interested in American religion.”

Father David Endres, assistant professor of church history and historical theology at the Athenaeum of Ohio/Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Cincinnati, had this to say in LSU Special Collections’ Civil War Book Review:

“Excommunicated from the Union is a carefully researched monograph, drawing from a wide array of archival sources. It is a concise, engaging volume that deserves to be read widely, among scholars of nineteenth century U.S. religion and Civil War historians, but also students in college and graduate seminar courses that delve into religious identity and the war. This superb study of the U.S. Catholic community in the Civil War era should remind scholars, students, and armchair historians alike of the important role Catholics played in the war and how the war in turn shaped Catholics’ communion of faith.” (read full review here)

Tim Grundmeier, a graduate student at Baylor University, wrote the following for the Religion in American History blog:

“William B. Kurtz’s Excommunicated from the Union: How the Civil War Created a Separate Catholic America (Fordham University Press, 2015) comes at an ideal time. Kurtz’s monograph not only takes its place as the most thorough treatment of Northern Catholicism and the war (the book is part of Fordham University Press’s series, The North’s Civil War), but also asks questions and utilizes approaches that other historians of Civil War-era religion would do well to note…. Both in its suggestions for future paths of inquiry and as a historiographical contribution in its own right, Excommunicated from the Union confirms that Civil War-era religious history remains a viable and exciting field.” (read full review here)

Finally, I am grateful to Dr. Robert Emmett Curran, professor emeritus in Catholic history at Georgetown University, for leaving the following review on my book’s Amazon.com page:

“A concise, comprehensive, challenging history of the American Catholic experience in the Union states during the Civil War era. Magnificently researched, smartly focused, and effectively argued. A very significant contribution to the field, one that will both reward readers and force them to rethink the conventional understanding of this story.”

For those who are interested in learning more, I will be taking part in a Virginia Festival of the Book 2016 panel on Thursday March 17. The panel, which is free and open to the public, will be held in the auditorium of the UVA Special Collections Library from 2:00 to 3:30 PM. You can learn more about the panel and my fellow panelists’ books by visiting our panel’s official festival webpage.