Thursday, January 8, 2015

History Corner / Book Review: The American Catholic Almanac by Brian Burch and Emily Stimpson



Disclosure / Disclaimer: I received this book, free of charge, from Blogging for Books, for review purposes on this blog. No other compensation, monetary or in kind, has been received or implied for this post. Nor was I told how to post about it



And now for a book, full of inspiration,
and history, for the new year...


The American Catholic Almanac cover


Synopsis:

What do Buffalo Bill , John F. Kennedy, Vince Lombardi , Dorothy Day, Fulton Sheen, and Andy Warhol have in common? 

They’re all Catholics who have shaped America. In this page-a-day history, 365 inspiring stories celebrate the historic contributions of American men and women shaped by their Catholic faith. From famous figures to lesser-known saints and sinners, The American Catholic Almanac tells the fascinating, funny, uplifting, and unlikely tales of Catholics’ influence on American history, culture, and politics. Spanning the scope of the Revolutionary War to Notre Dame football, this unique collection of stories highlights the transformative role of the Catholic Church in American public life over the last 400 years

.• The first immigrant to arrive in America via Ellis Island was a 15-year-old Irish Catholic girl?
 • Al Capone’s tombstone reads “MY JESUS MERCY”?
• Andrew Jackson credited America’s victory in the Battle of New Orleans to the prayers of the Virgin Mary and the Ursuline Sisters? 
• Five Franciscans died in sixteenth-century Georgia defending the Church’s teachings on marriage?
• Jack Kerouac died wanting to be known as a Catholic and not only as a beat poet? 
• Catholic missionaries lived in Virginia 36 years before the English settled Jamestown?

You can check out a sneak peek here!

From the Authors:

"Traditionally, almanacs are mostly collections of facts and figures We wanted to enchant our readers, to energize and inspire them. Accordingly, we decided to tell stories. Stories put you in the middle of a moment in history. They invite you into an adventure. And the American Catholic Almanac is really just one great big storybook. One page per day for one person."


Review:

It is important to remember, just as in genealogy, you get the good with the bad, when you look at history. The authors followed suit with this book and they've included saints and sinners, heroes and villains equally. The bad makes our history just as much as the good, something the authors want to remind us of. But no matter their status, all were Catholic and that is the binding fact.

This is a great resource for Catholic families, schools, and anyone curious about American history. Parents and teachers might consider, using the stories as a starting point for lessons on the American Revolutionary War, the American Civil War, or the great waves of migration that made the United States what it is. My only negative about the book was the lack of a more thorough index- especially for kids using the book as a resource, it's hard to look up time periods, locations, etc. 

About the Authors:

Brian Burch is the president of CatholicVote.org, a nonprofit political advocacy group based in Chicago.

Emily Stimpson is a Catholic writer based in Steubenville, Ohio, and the author of The Catholic Girl’s Survival Guide for the Single Years and These Beautiful Bones: An Everyday Theology of the Body.

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