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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)

What listeners say about How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

71 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Enlightening

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.

29 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Not what I expected

I thought this would be more of an academic book about how the Catholic Church influenced Western Civ; but it is a biased listing of all of the church’s ‘accomplishments’. Early in the book (first six minutes) the author even dismisses the allegations of sexual assault in the church as ‘rumors of corruption spread by people who know little of the church’. As a religious scholar, I take issue with the way information is presented and events that are left out. If you are a Catholic wanting to hear about your church’s ‘greatest hits’, this book is for you. If you are an academic or someone attempting to do serious research, I do not recommend it.

11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

34 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

15 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

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.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

12 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

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.

11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Extremely subjective book

The author ignores facts to fit his narrative.
Starts with ignoring Pagan Rome and Islamic influences (among others) that shape the western world even to this day. Seems that the author wanted to point everything at Catholicism (forgetting objectivity), even if the real contributions from Catholicism could have filled this book without having to paint an unreal picture.
If you are interested in facts, and not in only in a pretty story, look somewhere else.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Truly Worth Reading, and Re-Reading

Our present day society needs to reflect on the direction that current "values" are taking us before we fall prey to other belief systems that will for sure, enslave us.

2 people found this helpful