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Ambition and Arrogance: Cardinal William O'Connell of Boston and the American Catholic Church Paperback – April 1, 2007


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Cobalt Productions (April 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0978785509
  • ISBN-13: 978-0978785505
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.7 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,980,379 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"When Lord Acton said that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, he had the Church in mind. The story of William O'Connell, Cardinal Archbishop of Boston, is a case study in just how far that corruption can go. Those who are familiar with the scandal he created would not be surprised at more recent scandals. The difference today, one hopes, at least prevents the ambition and arrogance from being buried in secrecy as the story of William O'Connell was."  —Andrew M. Greeley, priest, sociologist, author


"A well-written account of the ambitious rise to power of William Henry Cardinal O'Connell of Boston. The documents used for this story read like a bad script for a soap opera villain, but unfortunately recount the machinations of one of the most powerful churchmen in the history of the United States."  —Gerald P. Fogarty, S.J., professor of religious studies and history at the University of Virginia


"A biography of ideas and ideological struggles. Slawson outlines the history, but what most intrigued me is its account of O’Connell’s role in church politics."  —Commonweal



"Slawson's mining of Vatican sources . . . delineate[s] a depressingly full picture of O'Connell's use of money and playing of the Roman card to win Vatican support."  —The Catholic Historical Review



"Slawson makes extensive use of archival material, is adept at finding confirmatory evidence, and never goes beyond what can be asserted based on the written record. The work is an example of dispassionate scholarship."  —American Catholic Studies

About the Author

Douglas J. Slawson is an author, educator, and lecturer. His book, The Department of Education Battle: 1918–1932, won the Cushwa Prize awarded by the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism at the University of Notre Dame. He is also author of The Foundation and First Decade of the National Catholic Welfare Council and coauthor of Church and Slave in Perry County, Missouri: 1818–1865. His articles have appeared in journals such as The Americas, the Catholic Historical Review, The Encyclopedia of American Catholic History, and Lo Straniero. He earned a doctorate in history from The Catholic University of America and a master of divinity from De Andreis Institute of Theology, and he is currently a professor of history at National University in San Diego. He lives in San Diego.

Customer Reviews

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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Joseph M. Hennessey on October 5, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This was one of the worst biographies I have ever read. It basically comes across that, before he wrote it, Slawson had decided that O'Connell was a bad man (ambitious and arrogant, both of which O'C. was), and then back-filled the bio with 'evidence' to prove his point.

The book is loaded with weasel words like "seems", there were "suspicions," someone "alleged etc." It is full of guilt-by-association illogic and simplistic bad guys/good guys mentality, good guys=O'Connell's opponents, bad guys=O'Connell and his allies.

Slawson seemed disappointed that all the bad stuff was within the first 10 years or so of O'Connell's regime, and that the last 30 were relatively peaceful and unremarkable. Slawson shows his ideological hand by backing the Modernists, whom we call liberals today, those who would relativize the truth of orthodoxy.

In addition, Slawson cites James O'Toole's Militant and Triumphant on virtually every other page, for good reason: it was a much better, original book. I think this author was just trying to capitalize on the recent clerical sexual abuse scandal.

William Cardinal O'Connell was no warm and fuzzy teddy bear; far from it. But Slawson has done the impossible: after reading this assasination, one almost feels sorry for the old curmudgeon.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Sterling Picard on June 4, 2007
Format: Paperback
Ambition & Arrogance by Douglas Slawson is an excellent read for anyone interested in the politics of the church. Cardinal O'Connell's impact on the Boston church and beyond is exacting and thoroughly documented. Slawson has detailed the life of this rogue with utmost fairness. This book is a "must read" or history will repeat itself.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By T. J. VanEtten on October 24, 2009
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Read this! It is a true picture of the Hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church. Arrogance, un-ethical behavior etc. runs rampant thru this book and brings us to where we are now....nothing has changed!
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Well researched and well written this book presents the story of a cardinal gone wrong. William O'Connell of Boston seemed focused on ambition and pride of place more than the teachings and mission of Jesus Christ. Dead since 1944 this powerful churchman ran the Archdiocese of Boston with a firm hand, wheeling and dealing with politicians and bankers and high placed Vatican officials with disdain for most others. His rise to power to become the first cardinal in Boston is well documented and the fear he instilled in his flock, especially his priests, is well detailed. His hatred for Fr Frank Spellman is well documented. Francis Spellman would later become archbishop of New York much to O'Connell's dismay and horror.
This book portrays O'Connell's tenure as cardinal archbishop of Boston as a time of spiritual dictatorship, dishonesty and gross mismanagement. But, the Church survived him and his successor Cardinal Cushing brought fresh life and vigor into the Boston church. If you enjoy church history, politics and intrigue and maybe even gossip then this text is a first choice.
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