John McGreevy

John T. McGreevy is the I.A. O'Shaughnessy Dean of the College of Arts and Letters and Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame.

By this author

Connelly on Kolakowski, John Paul II etc.

See this fascinating piece in the Nation by Commonweal contributor John Connelly on Polish philosopher Leszek Kolakowski.

Same Sex Marriage one day on

Having skimmed the opinions and read a good bit of commentary I'm sure I have nothing interesting to add about the Supreme Court decisions on same sex marriage yesterday.

But a trivia question: who is the most influential lay Catholic intellectual in the United States over the past fifteen years?

George Saunders on Catholicism

The short story auteur of the moment -- George Saunders -- on his Catholicism. Fascinating.


Obama and America’s Political Future
Theda Skocpol
Harvard University Press, $26.95, 195 pp.

All in the Family
The Realignment of American Democracy since the 1960s
Robert O. Self
Hill and Wang, $30, 495 pp.


Connelly on Nostra Aetate

I'm not a neutral arbiter -- on the dust jacket of the book I call it one of the most important books ever written on modern Catholicism -- but it was good to see Peter Gordon's interesting review of John Connelly's

Stansell in the New Republic on Catholics and abortion

So I'm breezing through recent issues of The New Republic and I'm jolted out of my chair by the following: Opposition to abortion in the late 1960s and early 1970s was "drummed up, exacerbated, and orchestrated by elites at the highest levels of the Catholic Church and the right wing of the Republican party."Thus concludes the third paragraph of a lengthy review of three recent books on abortion by University of Chicago historian Christine Stansell.

What We’ve Lost

Daniel Patrick Moynihan
A Portrait in Letters of an American Visionary
Edited by Steven R. Weisman
PublicAffairs, $35, 608 pp. 

Age of Fracture
Daniel T. Rodgers
Belknap/Harvard University Press, $29.95, 360 pp.


Wills on the Big Questions (updated)

Garry Wills has a witty demolition of a new book, All Things Shining, attempting to sketch a philosophy of life in the current New York Review of Books. I've not read the book. But as described by Wills it seems silly.

Daniel Mendelsohn on (gulp) Mad Men

It's not good for your aesthetic self-confidence when a critic you much admire takes on a favorite show. A taste:The writing is extremely weak, the plotting haphazard and often preposterous, the characterizations shallow and sometimes incoherent; its attitude toward the past is glib and its self-positioning in the present is unattractively smug; the acting is, almost without exception, bland and sometimes amateurish.

The Vatican Library

See this charming New Yorker article by Daniel Mendelsohn on the Vatican Library. (Abstract only for now). I've worked there, briefly, and Mendelsohn does seem to get the atmospherics right (including enthusiasm for the coffee bar in the courtyard of this Renaissance palazzo, and the widespread sense that Benedict XVI understands the ideals of a great research library better than John Paul II).