A provocative new biography probes deeply into the storied life of Father Ted Hesburgh, the well-loved but often controversial president of Notre Dame University. Considered for many decades to be the most influential priest in America, Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, played what many consider pivotal roles in higher education, the Catholic Church, and national and international affairs. American Priest examines his life and his many and varied engagements-from the university he led for thirty-five years to his associations with the Vatican and the White House-and evaluates the extent and importance of his legacy. Author and Notre Dame priest-professor Wilson D. Miscamble tracks how Hesburgh transformed Catholic higher education in the postwar era and explores how he became a much-celebrated voice in America at large. Yet, beyond the hagiography that often surrounds Hesburgh's legacy lies another more complex and challenging story. What exactly were his contributions to higher learning; what was his involvement in the civil rights movement; and what was the nature of his role as advisor to popes and presidents? Understanding Hesburgh's life and work illuminates the journey that the Catholic Church traversed over the second half of the twentieth century. Exploring and evaluating Hesburgh's importance, then, contributes not only to the colorful history of Notre Dame but also to comprehending the American Catholic experience.
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