Catholics on the Barricades Poland, France, and "Revolution," 1891-1956 Piotr H. Kosicki

Yale-Hoover Series on Authoritarian Regimes
Publication date:
06 Feb 2018
Yale University Press
424 pages: 235 x 156 x 32mm
13 b-w illus.
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In Poland in the 1940s and '50s, a new kind of Catholic intended to remake European social and political life—not with guns, but French philosophy

This collective intellectual biography examines generations of deeply religious thinkers whose faith drove them into public life, including Karol Wojtyła, future Pope John Paul II, and Tadeusz Mazowiecki, the future prime minister who would dismantle Poland’s Communist regime.
Seeking to change the way we understand the Catholic Church, World War II, the Cold War, and communism, this study centers on the idea of “revolution.” It examines two crucial countries, France and Poland, while challenging conventional wisdom among historians and introducing innovations in periodization, geography, and methodology. Why has much of Eastern Europe gone back down the road of exclusionary nationalism and religious prejudice since the end of the Cold War? Piotr H. Kosicki helps to understand the crises of contemporary Europe by examining the intellectual world of Roman Catholicism in Poland and France between the Church's declaration of war on socialism in 1891 and the demise of Stalinism in 1956.

Piotr H. Kosicki is assistant professor of history at the University of Maryland. He has written for the Nation, the New Republic, and the Times Literary Supplement.

“[A] well-researched book” —Jonathan Luxmoore, Times Literary Supplement

“An impressively researched account of French and Polish Catholic intellectuals facing Nazism and communism”— Carol E. Harrison, American Historical Review

“An illuminating look into a broad sweep of Polish Catholic history that at the same time reveals aspects of French Catholicism that otherwise might go unnoticed”—C. J. T. Talar, Journal of Ecclesiastical History

"An extraordinary scholarly contribution that is essential reading for all historians of twentieth century Europe.”—Paul Hanebrink, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

"A fully realized exemplar of the new transnational European history, this breathtaking new book goes far beyond the impressive feat of crossing borders and uniting East and West. Piotr Kosicki tells a fascinating and unexpected story about the relation between Roman Catholicism and the search for the just society beyond liberal terms, and charts how that search faced impasse across the most turbulent decades of the twentieth century, while also pointing ahead to the end of communism. The results make for a memorable and stylish entry in political and intellectual history. In the depth of its research and the success of its narrative, “Catholics on the Barricades” is a superlative achievement."—Samuel Moyn, author of Christian Human Rights

“The depth of [Kosicki’s] language skills is especially impressive. Very few historians of his generation have this kind of linguistic facility.”—Marci Shore, author of Caviar and Ashes: A Warsaw Generation's Life and Death in Marxism, 1918-1968

“A well-argued and original book, grounded in extensive archival and personal interviews. It is meticulously researched, and the reasoning is careful and judicious. It is certain to be widely read by anyone interested in Catholic history, Polish history, or French history."—Brian Porter-Szücs, author of Faith and Fatherland: Modernity, Catholicism, and Poland

"Kosicki poses new questions and offers new answers. This is an important, path-breaking book."--Adam Michnik, Author of The Church and the Left and Letters from Freedom