No period in American Catholic history has attracted as much scholarly interest in recent years as the last third of the nineteenth century, when the Church underwent a series of internal conflicts over issues that were various, specific, but somehow interlocking. Catholic leaders quarreled about such matters as the propriety of interfaith meetings, the condemnation of secret societies, the tempo of Americanization, the creation of a Catholic university, and the relation between parochial and public education. In spite of the intensive study these issues have received, their significance has been hard to grasp. The monographs have treated them as tactical controversies and have so stressed the underlying doctrinal unity among American Catholics that the bases of disagreement have never come fully into view. The present book, a Harvard doctoral dissertation, takes the clash of opinion seriously. By ranging more widely than anyone else has done through the published writings of late nineteenth-century Catholics, Dr. Cross has defined the social and even theological attitudes that distinguished a liberal from a conservative style of Catholicism. Urbanely, respectfully, but without sanctimonious pussy- footing, he has shown how these habits of mind shaped the numerous practical disputes of the day; and he has related the whole story both to European Catholicism and to the development of American society. -- from http://www.jstor.org (August 28, 2013).