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Publisher's Summary

Ask a college student today what he knows about the Catholic Church and his answer might come down to one word: "corruption". But that one word should be "civilization".

Western civilization has given us modern science, the wealth of free-market economics, the security of law, a sense of human rights and freedom, charity as a virtue, splendid art and music, philosophy grounded in reason, and innumerable other gifts we take for granted. But what is the ultimate source of these gifts? Best-selling author and professor Thomas E. Woods, Jr., provides the answer: the Catholic Church.

No institution has done more to shape Western civilization than the two-thousand-year-old Catholic Church and in ways that many of us have forgotten or never known. Woods' book is essential reading for recovering this lost truth.

©2005 Thomas E. Woods, Jr.; (P)2005 Blackstone Audiobooks

Critic Reviews

"I recommend Professor Woods's book not only to anyone interested in the history of the Catholic Church, but also to any student of the history and development of Western civilization." (Dr. Paul Legutko, Stanford University)

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  • Overall

Fascinating and informative

I am a devout Catholic, but even I used to grimace a little when I would hear complaints about how the Church stifled science, condemned Galileo, held down uneducated people hundreds of years ago, etc. These are topics that are widely accepted as fact in this day and age, and rarely refuted in public, even by Catholic apologists.

In this book, however, all these topics and many, many more are discussed in great depth, and we learn about all the monumental contributions the Church made to virtually every pillar of western civilization. Science; astronomy; international law; economics; charity; etc. The list of Catholic inventions and research is truly amazing. "Who would have thought that modern economic theory began with a Franciscan friar in the 13th century?"

From an apologetics standpoint, I'd consider this book less as a Protestant vs. Catholic work. There is very little discussion of this since most of the discussions do not involve theology. Instead, I'd consider it an excellent primer for an atheist or agnostic who is of the opinion that the Catholic church has largely been a force for corruption and regression in the world.

52 of 54 people found this review helpful

  • Overall


Got this because of all the negative arguments I've heard about Catholicism...even by Catholics. Many I heard were misstatements following popular secular, media thinking, e.g the Pope's Regensburg lecture. I couldn't figure out how the Church survived all these generations if it was/is guilty of all this (supposed) villany. The book is an advocate for the faith but I think it does it very well. In some cases it argues to forcefully and takes too much credit. Islam, China, other religions are given scant credit for scientific, literary, artistic achievements or influences. Even if half of what Woods says is true (I suspect it's much, much more) it is a much needed revelation and tonic of the good the Church has done. It doesn't proselytize and it adroitly lays out very convincing arguments and historical facts. Highly recommended for those with an open mind.

15 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Roleigh
  • Edina, MN, United States
  • 09-23-05

Fantastically Revealing and Fascinating

I was completely amazed at the depth and breath of how much of Western Civilization owes the Catholic Church and thanks to this tremendously interesting, detailed, and substantiated book, I learned about it. From the introduction of spacing in words, lower case, the father of Aviation, Seismology, Geology, being critically involved in the written introduction of the scientific method, modern economic theory, and so on.

31 of 34 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Marcos
  • BarcelonaSpain
  • 03-04-09

New insights on history

Even if you are not catholic, you must read this book. It gives a very different view of history, at least one that is not very known today. It is written for a broad audience, but with the great care of citing the right sources so that the inquirer and skeptical reader can refer.

13 of 14 people found this review helpful

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  • Story

Well researched, fair, performance bland

I found much history in this book that I'd never heard before or only partly encountered little. The narrator's performance was bland to the point that I put it on to help me sleep more than once. I think the content deserved better.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Stimulated further reading

This was an excellent drive-time book. I did not particularly care that it was not rigorously impartial. I learned some things I did not know and found myself wanting to read many of his cited sources such as Hans Kung.

11 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Ignacio
  • Van Nuys, CA, USA
  • 09-14-08

Interesting counterpoint

This a definitely interesting book, providing a good counterpoint to some of the common misconceptions that are constantly perpetuated by media and academia alike. I did not always find it intellectually tight but the facts and the arguments are still valid. At the very least it points out many of the ideas that set the foundations of our civilization.

10 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Anthony
  • Philadelphia, PA, United States
  • 05-23-11

An Enlightening Book

This book has excellent content, although I thought the narrator gave a rather dry reading of the material. I understand that the book is informative rather than entertaining but the seemingly monotone voice took me out of it at times. Otherwise, the book does a great job of dispelling many misconceptions about the Catholic Church and its place in history.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Story

Stop Apologizing

What was most disappointing about Thomas E. Woods’s story?

The title of the book was misleading. I was looking forward to reading about how the Catholic Church and its systems, processes and heirarchies contributed to the western world. Instead, the writer spent a lot of time defending the Church and over-defensively saying how certain beliefs about the Church are wrong. I wanted to hear about accomplishments, science, politics, but instead it was arguments of biased historical interpretations. As grown-ups we all know there are multiple sides and points of view, so stop trying to make me be okay with the Church when you're advertising the presentation of facts.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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¡ave maria!

in order to rescue the west from leftism, neo-marxism, post-modernism, and their wardogs antifa and Islam.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful