Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Book Review: Within the Market Strife

Within the Market Strife: American Catholic Economic Thought from Rerum Novarum to Vatican II by Kevin E. Schmiesing is the first of three books that I have had a chance to review in the Studies in Ethics and Economics series from Acton Institute and published by Lexington Books. The book was provided to me through Mind and Media and I received no other consideration for this review.

I have to admit that I had some reservations about reviewing these books. Since I am not a Catholic and am not well versed in Catholic history and thought I was concerned that I would be lost trying to work my way through books written by Catholics about Catholic thought. Thankfully, Mr. Schmiesing has made his book accessible to persons of all faiths regardless of their own background. He has meticulously researched his book and it shows in the quality of his writing.

Within the Market Strife attempts to document the thoughts of prominent Catholic scolars on economic and social matters from 1891 to 1962. Mr. Schmeising doesn't simply throw thoughts out there for the reader but he also provides a historical and cultural context so that the reader has a better grasp of the issues that scholars grappled with at the time of their writing. He also does an excellent job of explaining the teachings of the Catholic church of the time and how those teachings influenced scholars.

Within the Market Strife is a concise, readable narrative of Catholic economic thought in the late 19th and early 20th century. It also gives the reader a valuable insight into the influence of the Catholic church and its teachings on social and economic issues of the day. If this is any example of what one can expect from this series it's safe to say that Acton has accomplished their goal of studying economics in their proper cultural and theological context.

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