BEING CATHOLIC, BEING AMERICAN : The Notre Dame Story, 1842-1934
by Robert E. Burns

Reviews and Commentary

From Library Journal
Burns, a teacher and administrator at Notre Dame for four decades, has written an entertaining, useful history of the university from its founding in 1842 through 1934. The first section concentrates on the institution's growing pains, including the debate over hiring lay faculty and the beginnings of the phenomenally successful football program under Knute Rockne. The second section treats the virulent anti-Catholic sentiment of the Ku Klux Klan in Indiana and its influence on the university and its football team, whose national championships gave American Catholics something to be proud of as they moved toward assimilation into the mainstream culture. The third section examines the impact of the Great Depression on the university's finances and enrollment and the effect of Rockne's untimely death in a plane crash in 1931. This book is an important contribution to the history of one of America's most important Catholic universities, a story that often mirrors the history of American Catholics in the 19th and 20th centuries. Highly recommended.--Pius Murray, Pope John XXIII National Seminary, Weston, MA
 
From Publisher's Weekly - Publishers Weekly
The history of the University of Notre Dame from 1842 to 1934 mirrors in many ways the history of American Catholicism during those years. For reasons having to do more with football than religion, most Americans think first of Notre Dame when they think of Catholic universities. Burns, a former Notre Dame faculty member and longtime columnist for U.S. Catholic magazine, traces the emergence of American Catholics from a minority status in society to the elevation of Notre Dame as a great American university. He argues that having one of the most successful college football teams in history helped establish Notre Dame's popularity and reputation in American culture and history. Burns keeps the reader entranced with a narrative filled with lively characters and events. Here we meet Notre Dame founder Reverend Edward Sorin, the KKK in Indiana, Knute Rockne and a host of other heroes and cowards, mountebanks and millionaires, all of whom played a part in the astonishing years covered by this story.

A word from the author:
"This is a book about Notre Dame and about the triumphs and travails of being Catholic and American in the first third of the twentieth century. Being so was not for the faint of heart. I have tried to show how American history intersects and interacts with the history of Notre Dame. Rockne and his great football teams, Ku Klux Klan domination of Indiana politics and state government during the 1920's, very generous rich men and some very stingy ones, genuine heroes and utter rogues all contribute to this fascinating American story that I have tried to tell." (Robert Burns July 1999)


 

 

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