Sunday, November 2, 2014

Catholic Review: The American Catholic Almanac

The American Catholic Almanac: A Daily Reader of Patriots, Saints, Rogues, and Ordinary People Who Changed the United States by Brian Burch and Emily Stimpson, September 30, 2014. 416 pages. Published by Image. Source: Blogging for Books.

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.

Did you know…
• 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?

With the word almanac in the title, I bet y'all are curious as to why I chose to read The American Catholic Almanac.  Okay, while the title is on the boring side, hello Almanac, it is quite the fascinating read as you get to hear about how Catholics, well, helped to shape our country. I thought it was pretty interesting because there are so many aspects of the American History story that is left out because it doesn't line-up with what is taught on a secular level.

As I'm reading The American Catholic Almanac I came to a very shocking realization that while I knew there was contention early on in the history of the country between the Catholics and the Protestants, I did not realize how many historical figures, both good and bad, were associated with the Catholic faith and how they brought change to the country in the early days. It was really interesting to see a side of American history that is not often portrayed truthfully in public schools or in really any non-secular history books.

So, while The American Catholic Almanac is chock full the good and bad historical Catholic figures, it was the story of the missionaries and how they fought for the rights of the Native Americans that really interested me. Of course, there were many, many, many more things for one to be fascinated by in this book, but it would take probably a year to talk about all the interesting facts recorded in this book...just know that you will probably be astonished, as I was, about all the information jam-packed within this book. Reading The American Catholic Almanac made me feel like I had missed out on so much history of the church within the early years, like before we broke away from England, that I was mildly embarrassed. Although, I admit that I have never found American History to be all that interesting when compared to world and European history.

As for the writing, I enjoyed the short formatting of the entries as it gave you just enough information to pique your interest, yet, not so much that you felt crushed by the knowledge. The authors did a great job of compiling everything in a fun to read book. While I was extremely curious about what would be covered in The American Catholic Almanac, I was a little worries that it would be a dull read. Thankfully, it was just fascinating and fun to read. Also, I probably bothered my sisters a lot while reading it because every time I found something interesting I had to share it with them.
Final Verdict: The American Catholic Almanac- Who knew, history could be fun.

The American Catholic Almanac earns

This book was received from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

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