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Earthly Powers: The Clash of Religion and Politics in Europe, from the French Revolution to the Great War [Paperback]

By Michael Burleigh (Author)
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Item Number 56344  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   560
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8" Width: 5.3" Height: 1.2"
Weight:   0.95 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Mar 1, 2007
Publisher   Harper Collins Publishers
ISBN  0060580941  
EAN  9780060580940  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
In this masterful, stylish, and authoritative book, Michael Burleigh gives us an epic history of the battles over religion in modern Europe, examining the complex and often lethal ways in which politics and religion have interacted and influenced each other over the last two centuries. From the French Revolution to the totalitarian movements of the twentieth century, Earthly Powers is a uniquely powerful portrait of one of the great tensions of modern history-one that continues to be played out on the world stage today.

Publishers Description

In this masterful, stylish, and authoritative book, Michael Burleigh gives us an epic history of the battles over religion in modern Europe, examining the complex and often lethal ways in which politics and religion have interacted and influenced each other over the last two centuries. From the French Revolution to the totalitarian movements of the twentieth century, Earthly Powers is a uniquely powerful portrait of one of the great tensions of modern history—one that continues to be played out on the world stage today.

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More About Michael Burleigh

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Michael Burleigh is the author of a dozen books, including "The Third Reich: A New History," which won the 2001 Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction. His work has been translated into twenty languages, and in 2012 he was awarded the prestigious Nonino International Master of His Time Prize. He lives in London.

Michael Burleigh currently resides in London. Michael Burleigh was born in 1955 and has an academic affiliation as follows - London School of Economics and Political Science University of Wales C.

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Product Categories
1Books > Subjects > History > Europe > France > General   [7855  similar products]
2Books > Subjects > History > Europe > France > Revolution   [344  similar products]
3Books > Subjects > History > Europe > General   [8439  similar products]
4Books > Subjects > History > World > General   [35342  similar products]
5Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Politics > General   [22730  similar products]
6Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Politics > History & Theory   [3416  similar products]
7Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Church History > General   [6817  similar products]
8Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Religious Studies > Church & State   [1182  similar products]

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
A Fine History of Europe's 19th Century Religious-Political Relationships Of Relevance To Today  Dec 30, 2006
Distinguished British historian Michael Burleigh began thinking of the history of Europe's relations between its religious and political components of civil society and the governments of emerging nation-states such as Italy and Germany while writing his classic histories on Nazi Germany. Seen via this light, his latest book, "Earthly Powers: The Clash of Religion and Politics in Europe from the French Revolution to the Great War", demonstrates how European society developed such evil 20th Century state religions of Communism, Fascism, and Nazism. He makes a most persuasive case in demonstrating that Revolutionary France, especially during the period of the Directory, was the precursor to such banal, evil state-sponsored faiths, replacing traditional Catholic doctrine and rituals with those proposed by the radical ruling elite of the first French republic. And he demonstrates how the clash of Protestant and Catholic religious traditions in Central Europe spurred efforts to create not only a modern unified German state, but also encouraged the successful unification of the Italian peninsula by revolutionaries like Giuseppe Garibaldi, with substantial assistance from the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia's astute ministers such as Camille Benso, conte Cavour, and its ruling family (This dynasty would eventually become the rulers of a unified Italian kingdom.), inspite of substantial opposition from the Catholic Church and its Popes ruling from Rome. Paradoxically, Burleigh notes how the ascendancy of strong religious traditions in German politics also fueled both Imperial Germany's global imperial ambitions, and the militarism which led directly to World War I. Although his prose is often uneven, Burleigh has made many useful observations about the relationships between 19th Century European religions and politics that have much relevance to today's current clash against Islamofascist terror.
Relevant to today  Nov 4, 2006
This book gives some insight into how we got to today's political and religious scene. You can even make some parallels showing that we really are not much diffenent that we were 150 to 200 years ago.

I do wish that Mr. Burleigh had a more journalist style rather than a scholarly style or writing. His long sentences and paragraphs make for slow reading.
An Excellent Historic Insight  Aug 20, 2006
The sources of the global disasters that define the previous century are very rightly the subject of investigation. If anything should be, they should be. The Great War was the worst case scenario come true....and it's aftermath, a continuation of the 20th century nightmare. Burleigh certainly has a pivotal subject.

Linking religion to the Great War....and for me, to the two later nefarious secular religions of our recent past, is an important way of understading the danger of the essential volatility of this mix. When belief, loses its moorings in "the good", and becomes subsumed in evil, the consequences are terrible, as Burleigh demonstrates in his investigastion of the Catholic-Protestant contest.....and catastrophic, when applied to the misled nation state. In either scenario, history becomes a contest between vigorously convinced teams, who seek to impose upon the world their systems of belief and thought.

My read is that Burleigh is clearly suggesting that this religious division was the nurturing environment for the Great War....and for me, the twin fiascos of the 20th century ideologies of the left and right. To recognize that the traditional, if flawed, center of western moral direction was in itself, divided against itself, and weakened, is an important historic insight....which makes all that followed, a logical consequence.

This thesis raises many and difficult questions for our 21st century world, which I hope Mr. Burleigh, will develop in future writings.

As an aside, I particularly enjoyed the discussion on the philosophes. These were men, like Franklin and Voltaire, who were always in search of answering that very first question of western philosphy: "What is Virtue?". The tragedy of religion and politics from the French Revolution to the Great War is that many of the powerful men, unelected and elected, answered this question very, very badly.

Would that they would have behaved differently!

Michael Burleigh's book is a good read....and a good historical thesis to consider for today's world.
A Fascinating Account of the Conflict Between the Churches and the Modern Political Religions.  May 31, 2006
_Earthly Powers: The Clash of Religion and Politics in Europe from the French Revolution to the Great War_ by British historian Michael Burleigh provides a fascinating history of the conflict which developed between the churches and the modernist political religions. Burleigh, whose previous work has focused on the Third Reich, builds upon the theories of émigré German philosopher Eric Voegelin, who argued that the modern day political religions constituted revivals of the Gnostic heresy. Voegelin was a conservative political philosopher who had escaped the German Third Reich and came to write on the political religions, especially communism and Nazism, the two great totalitarianisms of the Twentieth Century. Burleigh also notes the importance of Raymond Aron, who spoke of the "opium of the intellectuals" in their zeal for totalitarian systems. The use of the term "totalitarian" has proven problematic for many historians, particularly Marxists who seem to believe that communism did not constitute the sort of evil to be found in Nazism (the universal "bad guy"). Burleigh rejects these Marxist notions arguing instead that totalitarianism remains a useful category.

What this book does provide is a fascinating account of the various political conflicts brought about by the coming secularization of the preceding centuries from the French revolution onwards. Burleigh begins by discussing the utopian schemes of Dominican friar Tommaso Campenella as a precursor to his discussion of the coming political religions. This sort of utopian dreaming was to crop up again and again during the coming centuries. Burleigh next turns his attention to the "Age of Reason, Age of Faith", showing the conflict that developed between the Gallican church and the Jesuits. In particular, Burleigh references the works of Pascal and other Jansenists, who he argues came to resemble Deists in their belief that God had turned away from a fallen world. Burleigh also discusses the Philosophes and the conflict between them and the Ancien Regime. In the subsequent chapter, Burleigh provides a detailed account of the French revolution. Here we see firsthand the crimes committed in the name of "Reason" by the satanic revolutionaries. Burleigh considers two painters, who played an important role in the creation of the myth of the revolution: Johan Zoffany and Jacques-Louis David. Burleigh also explains the role of philosophers such as Rousseau in the revolution but also conservatives such as Burke and Toqueville. Burleigh also explains the role of the Jacobins and the subsequent role of the church in the creation of the counter-revolution. In particular, Burleigh considers two counter-revolutionary thinkers, both important traditionalist Catholics: Joseph de Maistre and Louis de Bonald. Burleigh also discusses the turns in the thought of Lammenais who began as a traditionalist opponent of the revolution but later embraced it and left the church entirely. In addition, Burleigh discusses the role of Napoleon following the revolution. Next, Burleigh turns his attention to "Political Messianism and Nationalism". Here, he considers the rise of various nationalisms including German, Irish, Polish, and Italian nationalism, mentioning such figures as Mickiewicz, O'Connell, and Mazzini. Burleigh also considers the role of secret societies in the formation of these nationalisms. Burleigh next turns his attention to the modern "faiths", considering the role of scientific developments such as Darwinian evolutionary theory in the decline of religious faith. Burleigh also notes the role of socialist utopians such as Robert Owen, Fourier, and Comte (who was apparently mentally unbalanced). Subsequently Burleigh turns his attention to late nineteenth century Russian thought. He notes the role of various anarchists and nihilists, who believed themselves to constitute a sort of "new man". Burleigh also goes into a detailed discussion of the life of Dostoevsky and his writings, explaining the conflicts in the Russian soul. Burleigh subsequently turns his attention to the rising conflict between church and state. Burleigh begins this discussion by emphasizing the role of Pope Pius IX as well as showing the growing conflicts that had developed in the Anglican church and the rise of the "Nonconformists". Next, Burleigh turns his attention to "The Churches in Industrial Society". Here, he shows the conflict which developed between Christianity and Christian social teachings and "Mammon", as it developed in Victorian England. Burleigh lays out the role played by various social and labor organizations and their role in curtailing the excesses of industrial capitalism. Burleigh examines both Protestant and Catholic social thought. In particular, he shows how thinkers on the right came to embrace the social question, not to be outdone by their leftist and socialist peers. Burleigh explains the role of Catholic social teaching, emphasizing the thinking of such individuals as Le Play, but also noting the importance of labor in the papal encyclical _Rerum novarum_. Burleigh also explains the developments in German thought, the role of romanticism, but also the coming place of anti-Semitism in nationalist thought. Burleigh also provides an account of Charles Maurras and the Action Francais. Finally, Burleigh turns his attention to the Great War. Here, he explains the role of the churches, both Catholic and Protestant, in support of the soldiers fighting the war. However, Burleigh notes the conflicts that developed between proletarian soldiers and upper class ministers. Burleigh ends with a discussion explaining how the role of the Great War led to the development of the modern day totalitarianisms: Fascism, Nazism, and Communism.

This book provides a fascinating account of European history and will be highly interesting to any reader seeking to understand the conflict between the church and the political religions as well as the coming role of secularization. As another reviewer has noted, Europe remains besieged by a whole host of problems brought about by the modern age and only a return to the Faith can save it. This book provides a fascinating account of how those difficulties arose in the past centuries brought on by the onslaught of the French revolution and further developed by the horrendous ideologies of communism and Nazism.

Finally, I should add that I did not find Burleigh's style to be too particularly difficult and I enjoyed reading his accounts of the various individuals within. He offers the reader much to think about and keeps him fascinated with many obscure details of history.
Deft British Analysis  May 18, 2006
Earthly Powers has an easy command of sources and a deft, arch presentation typical of British writers. If one enjoys the writing in the TLS, one will enjoy this book. The vocabulary is not at all taxing, and unlike recondite theory jargon, spices the text without obscuring its meaning. In addition,this raises a topic not mentioned since J.L.Talmon's controversial discussion of revolution and totalitarianism.

Consider it Peter Gay's Enlightenment with cayenne, and take a chance!

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