August 13th, 2012Ink Desk on Europeby Robert Asch

Negotiating a path through the turbulent waters of modern Europe can be a daunting task for anyone. In response to Joseph Pearce's last post, here is a supplementary list of books mostly on France, the Church and what Burke called 'The Armed Doctrine.' I hope you find them useful!

General Background

Christopher Dawson: Understanding Europe (The best introduction to post-Reformation Europe I know by the most erudite, judicious and insightful scholar I have ever read)

Church Background
Philip Hughes: A Popular History of the Catholic Church (I think Hughes is the best Church historian in English)
Philip Hughes: The Church in Crisis: A History of the General Councils, 325-1870
The Catholic Encyclopaedia (online at

Intellectual Background, Context, and Legacy

Christopher Dawson: The Gods of Revolution

Aidan Nichols: Catholic Thought Since the Enlightenment

Our Lady, the Eldest Daughter of the Church, and Revolutionary Europe
Donal Foley: Marian Apparitions, the Bible and the Modern World (This fascinating study examines the major Marian apparitions from Guadalupe to the 20th century and interprets them in the light of the cultural and historical events surrounding them. Most of the apparitions - and events - took place in France between 1830 and 1933. The book deals with them at length and in great detail)
Donal Foley: Apparitions of Mary - Their Meaning in History (very truncated version of the above in booklet form, published by CTS)
Any larger-scale studies of Lourdes and St Therese of Lisieux will inevitably cover some of this ground too.

Religious, Social and Political Background and Context
Daniel-Rops: The Church in an Age of Revolution (Catholic. Superb detailed survey, with information on Germany and the Kulturkampf)
Jacques Bainville: History of France (Royalist-Action Francaise perspective)

On the French Revolution
Warren H. Carroll: The Guillotine and the Cross (Very readable popular introduction from a Catholic perspective)
Christopher Hibbert: The Days of the French Revolution (Detailed, pretty comprehensive, illustrated, not too long, readable)
Thomas Carlyle: The French Revolution (Great literary and historical classic. Ultimately about much more than the French Revolution. One of the handful of permanent classics on the subject)
The Memoirs of Chateaubriand (One of the greatest of French writers; an aristocrat who saw and survived the Terror, met George Washington, served under Napoleon, opposed him in turn, was a founding figure of the French Romantic movement, and lived to see the definitive fall of the Monarchy in 1848. This is his posthumously published autobiography. A truncated edition used to be available in Penguin)
Alexis de Tocqueville: The European Revolution & Correspondence with Gobineau (Sometimes called the greatest political scientist after Aristotle. John Lukacs edition)
Hippolyte Taine: The French Revolution (Major and exhaustive study. Like the Carlyle a permanent classic, though not so rich a read)
Stanley Loomis: Paris in the Terror

On Principled British Opposition to the Revolution
Lord Rosebery: Pitt (A little diamond of a book on Revolutionary and Napoleonic France's principal antagonist - of whom Cardinal Manning said 'The two greatest Englishmen in our history are, to me, William Pitt and St. Thomas of Canterbury.')
Russell Kirk: Edmund Burke: A Genius Rediscovered (Splendid and engaging book on the founder of modern Conservatism. Plenty of material on what Burke identified as the permanent dangers of Revolutionary ideology)

On Life and Issues in the Third Republic
Jacques Bainville: The French Republic: 1870-1935 (Royalist-Action Francaise perspective)
Raissa Maritain: We Have Been Friends Together; Adventures in Grace (Autobiography. Much information on the Church and society in France between the 1890s and WWII. Portraits of major figures: Bloy, Peguy etc. Catholic but anti-Action Francaise perspective)
Karl Pfleger: Wrestlers with Christ (More or less contemporary study of such figures as Bloy, Peguy and Gide)
Hans Urs von Balthasar: Bernanos: An Ecclesial Existence (Both this and Aidan Nichols' books on Claudel and Garrigou-Lagrange provide a wealth of material both on major figures central to the big issues as well as information on French culture and politics)
Aidan Nichols: The Poet as Believer: A Theological Study of Paul Claudel
Aidan Nichols: Reason with Piety: Garrigou-Lagrange in the Service of Catholic Thought

Naturally,where France is concerned,  much of the most useful stuff is in French. For those who can read the lingo, I'd strongly recommend the following:
Jean Sevillia: Quand les Catholiques etaient hors la loi (When the Catholics were outside the law)
Jean Sevillia: Historiquement Correct (on the politically correct rewriting of French History)
Cardinal Billot: Les Principes de 89 (on the intrinsically anti-Catholic principles of the French Revolution)
Xaver Martin: Nature humaine et la Revolution francaise (on the French Revolution's conception of human nature)
Pierre Boutang: Maurras (Boutang was himself a major intellectual. Pro-Maurras, but critical)
Jacques Prevotat: Les Catholiques et l'Action francaise (The Catholics and Action Francaise: hostile to Action Francaise)
Francois Huguenin: A l'ecole de l'Action francaise (literally: At the School of Action Francaise. Essentially positive but far from uncritical assessment of Action Francaise's influence and achievements from c. 1900 to the end of WWII and beyond)
Francois Huguenin: Le Conservatisme impossible (on the 'impossibility' of conservatism in France since the Revolution: the Republic and its opponents are both essentially committed to radical, reactionary agendas: the only tradition there has been to conserve since the Revolution is the 'Revolutionary tradition').
Francois Huguenin: La Republique xenophobe (on the xenophobic agendas that dominated both the 'left' and 'right' in the Third Republic[1871-1940])
Henri Amouroux: Pour en finir avec Vichy (roughly translated: Vichy: An End to the Misinformation!. An objective study of what actually happened, in what stages, and why, written by a man who served with de Gaulle and the Allies. Especially valuable is volume II which deals with the background to the passions and agendas played out in France between 1940 and 1945).

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