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After the defeat of liberalism in the Revolution of 1848, and in the face of the dramatic revival of popular Catholicism, German middle-class liberals used anti-Catholicism to orient themselves culturally in a new age. Michael B. Gross 's study shows how anti-Catholicism and specifically the Kulturkampf—the campaign to break the power of the Catholic Church—were not simply attacks against the church, nor were they merely an attempt to secure state autonomy. Instead, Gross shows that the liberal attack on Catholicism was actually a complex attempt to preserve moral, social, political, and sexual order during a period of dramatic pressures for change.
By offering a provocative reinterpretation of liberalism and its relationship to the German anti-Catholic movement, this work ultimately demonstrates that in Germany, liberalism itself contributed to a culture of intolerance that would prove to be a serious liability in the twentieth century. It will be of particular interest to students and scholars of culture, ideology, religion, and politics.
Michael B. Gross is Associate Professor of History at East Carolina University.
"Michael Gross has written a fascinating account of the centrality of confessional polemic to the development of nineteenth-century German liberalism, offering not only new and important insights into the nature of the liberal 'imagination' between the 1850s and 1870s, but also demonstrating with impressive verve, the extent to which the scholarly study of religion in modern Germany has progressed over the past couple decades."
---German Studies Review
"Whatever the course of future debate, it is certain that all future discussions of Germany's conflicted, confusing path to modernity will have to take note of Gross's powerful, outrageous, and disturbing exploration of the troubled liberal imagination."
---American Historical Review
"The studies of Catholic piety, associational life, and political movements have...promoted major revisions in our understanding of modern German society, culture, and politics. Historians have devoted much less attention, however, to the equally impressive reaction to this Catholic revival, namely, the unleashing of a lively and wide-ranging anti-Catholic polemic...a thoroughgoing analysis of nineteenth-century anti-Catholicism has long been lacking. With the publication of Michael B. Gross's [book], this lacuna has been finally addressed, and in a first-rate fashion."
---Journal of Modern History
Winner: 2004 John Gilmary Shea Prize from the American Catholic Historical Association
Copyright © 2004, University of Michigan. All rights reserved. Posted August 2004.
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