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Triumph: The Power and the Glory of the Catholic Church--a 2, 000-Year History / H.W. Crocker, III. Hardcover – 30 Nov 2001

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 499 pages
  • Publisher: Prima Lifestyles; 1st edition (30 Nov. 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0761529241
  • ISBN-13: 978-0761529248
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.8 x 4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 259,535 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By "philipjsands" on 2 May 2002
Format: Hardcover
Harry Crocker's book is a wonderfully refreshing antidote for Catholics used to being on the defensive about their faith.
"Triumph" is a swashbuckling saga of the Catholic Church and the people who shaped it. It spans 2,000 years of history in a remarkably coherent and readable fashion. Forget fusty old historical tomes - this is how Maximus from "Gladiator" would write history. Red-blooded Catholics will love it!
The author makes no apologies for his openly pro-Catholic and pro-Western biases, and nor should he. That aside, "Triumph" is an immaculately researched account of the longest-lived and most influential organisation in the history of the Western world. Buy it today.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 5 July 2002
Format: Hardcover
With the secular media constantly denigrating the Catholic Church, Harry Crocker's "Triumph" provides a breath of fresh air. Spanning the Church's 2000-year history, the range is formidable and Crocker's ability to paint in miniature on an enormous canvas astonishing.
The style is lucid, and frequently witty. Most history books have their drier stretches, but this was a joy to read from cover to cover. Catholics who love their Church will similarly love this book; non-Catholics will find it fascinating to see the influence of the Catholic Church on world civilization.
My congratulations to Mr Crocker (a convert from Anglicanism) - this book is recommended reading, being as it is exhaustive but not exhausting, and a superb entertainment.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Patrick Lawler on 14 Jan. 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
All Catholics need to educate themselves as much as possible both in the Faith and in the History of the Church, as it is on the grounds of the latter especially that many attacks on the Faith are based today. However, since a great many of those 'historical' attacks involve ignorance of or a flat out fabrication of the actual History, it is essential we know our own History accurately.
"Triumph..." is a really good place to start as the story (all History IS stories) unfolds in a fast-paced yet detailed way that draws you along. In fact, it is such a good story that you might want to read it twice straight away, i.e. once to simply enjoy the vast scope of the narrative and then once again as a History book packed with important facts, information and "setting-the-record-straight" goodness!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 165 reviews
194 of 206 people found the following review helpful
The Rest of the Story 23 Feb. 2004
By Gord Wilson - Published on
Format: Paperback
I bought the hardback of this book after seeing the author on C-Span Book TV. I disagree completely with the negative reviews of this book for the following reasons. First, the authors of those reviews seem to be well-versed in the history of the last 2000 years and object to how Mr. Crocker presents his version. All I can say is they have been lucky not to have had to sit through what passes as history as I have. I have never heard Mr. Crocker's side, even in so-called Catholic books. "A church that never went right would be quite as miraculous as a church that never went wrong," Chesterton quipped in Orthodoxy. In all the other versions of history I've been exposed to, the church never goes right. Obviously their fairy tales were as flawed as Mr. Crocker's critics feel his presentation to be. Yet even now these inventive revisions top the best seller list. How I pity the innocent readers who, unaware of the marketing ploy foisted on them, may attempt to create a coherent philosophy from the hacked together bits of historical shrapnel that pass for, and are taught as, history. Second, if you wonder why so many people are today reconsidering the Catholic Church, it's because its detractors have overstated their case. It's as if, to quote Chesterton again, "any stick was good enough to beat Christianity with." All that happens is one loses respect for the beaters and gains respect for the beaten. Chesterton wrote his comments 100 years ago, summarily dismantling the idiotic pre-modern world (back now as the idiotic post-modern world). As a convert, Crocker is naturally excited to tell the other side of the story, and as a hungry soul starved by the meaninglessness of the non-philosophies of today I was excited to read it. One caveat: the time of the Reformation and the Thirty Year war is an account of unbelievable violence and carnage. But as Mel Gibson's movie shows, a great many in our day are hungry for the truth to set us free.
94 of 100 people found the following review helpful
Don't judge it for what it is not. 11 Jan. 2005
By Kevin Davis - Published on
Format: Paperback
If you expect this to be an academic, critical history of the Catholic Church, then you need to read the title again. Crocker is not a professional historian, and he doesn't pretend to be. However, as a man's honest interpretation and commentary of true historical events, the book is excellent. This is history through the eyes of a faithful, orthodox Roman Catholic, in the historico-apologetic tradition of Hilaire Belloc, Christopher Dawson, and G.K. Chesterton. Crocker is clearly indebted to them for his understanding of the Church and its development as it struggles against numerous foes, secular and religious. Of particular interest to Western Christian readers is the second half beginning with the Reformation. Like Belloc, Crocker wants to locate the rampant secularism of today within the principles of the Reformation -- such as in this memorable quote:

"The result [of sola scriptura], over time, was that in Protestant countries, theology was no longer 'the queen of sciences' but only one source of knowledge, subject to individual interpretation, and was separated from secular inquiry. Because secular inquiry was seen as objective it eventually gained overweening predominance and prestige over doctrinally subjective Protestant religious thought -- an intellectual development that has been the major factor in secularizing the Western world" (240).

Whether one agrees or not, such issues are worth pondering, and this book is a worthwhile chance to do so with a dedicated Catholic.
137 of 149 people found the following review helpful
Warning: This Book is F-U-N 28 Dec. 2001
By Terrence J. Sexton - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Tired of seeing the Catholic Church pilloried by malcontents, defectors, and detractors? Longing for a sweeping, well-written overview of the Church's unparalleled achievements over the last two millennia? If so, you will really enjoy this book. I received it for Christmas and could not put it down.
Crocker will, predictably, be criticized by those who wish that the Church was not so wedded to the objective, immutable, hard truths preached by the Apostles and St. Paul. But the critics must ask themselves why, if the Church is really the decrepit, bankrupt institution they depict it to be, they expend so much time, effort and ink attacking it?
This is not revisionist history; Crocker readily admits that the Church is a divine, infallible institution made up of human, fallible creatures. Far from exposing the Church as a fraud, these excesses and failures of the past only reinforce its divine character. Indeed, only a Church that received the protection promised in Matthew 16:18 could endure some of the scandals to which the Barque of Peter has been subjected.
Moreover, Crocker goes a long way toward debunking some of the viciously unfair myths which have been spread about the Church, e.g., that it was complicit in the face of Nazi genocide. John Cornwell, Garry Wills and their ilk should be very uneasy about the release of this book, which does an excellent job of unmasking their shoddy research and analysis.
76 of 81 people found the following review helpful
Napoleon, read this book! . . . (if circumstances allow) 24 Jun. 2003
By "zenoofelia" - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Critical reviews of this book rightly point out that it's not a dry, exhaustive analysis of all issues related to the Catholic Church over 2000 years. It is not written for a handful of other professional historians tucked away in academia somewhere. The book is not an autopsy.
But frankly, it's high time someone wrote a book like Crocker's.
First, by any neutral criteria, the Catholic Church is the most interesting institution that has ever existed (see below) and as such it deserves a treatment like Crocker's written with the attitude that people might actually find the subject interesting.
Second, it is remarkable how ignorant most of us are about the Catholic Church, even though it is clearly the most important human institution in the history of the world.
Third, the vast majority of stuff one hears about the role of the Church in history is complete myth. (Tiny example I hear constantly, exploded admirably by Crocker: "The Church led those nasty crusades trying to stamp out Islam"--completely wrong. The crusades (a)came along many centuries after Islam arrived on the scene--the Muslims were left in peace for 500 years, (b) were not against Islam, but against the blood-thirsy Ottoman Empire, a bunch that slaughtered babies on bayonets before their mothers' eyes and beheaded infidels for sport (and as such was completely deserving of the crudades) (c) were not all led by the Church (indeed, e.g., the ridiculous Children's Crusade was condemned by the Church).
So Crocker is right to have a somewhat polemical attitude here, as there is much to be corrected. And his lack of sympathy for certain acts and attitudes attributable to Protestantism is appropriate in the context of his historical narrative. Crocker recognizes that ideas have consequences, even religious ideas, and one cannot write history without thinking critically about ideas. He brings to life how certain Protestant institutions have strenuously endeavored to exaggerate the foibles of the Church or even create myths to justify their rejection of the Church and their own claims to authority (which can be a bit thin, depending upon the brand of Protestantism). (See, e.g., history according to the Brits: Henry VIII literally murders a whole bunch of his wives, lots of respected members of his court, thousands of Catholics, some of them, including middle-aged women, being slowly crushed alive to serve as particularly nasty examples to others who dare remain true to their beliefs . . . but it's the Pope, any Pope, that's a power-hungry despot, while the great patriot Henry is honored as the founder of the dear ol' Church of England. Talk about your revisionist history!)
Crocker's account vividly portrays an amazing story that should astound anyone with a brain, no matter what they think about God, Jesus, religion or Catholicism. The Church is the most long-lived institution the world has ever known, and there is no close second. It survived the persecution of Rome, the embrace of Rome (worse), the fall of Rome, the Dark Ages, the Middle Ages, the Reformation, the Renaissance, the Enlightenment (so called), the Age of Revolution, and the Age of Totalitarianism. Almost every age was dominated by smart and powerful folks that predicted the prompt demise of the Church and worked to hasten it.
Crocker's history is all the more important in light of the current role of the Church. It might shock most Americans to know that today the Catholic Church is larger and stronger today than it has ever been. (American Catholics only make up about 6% or the Church.) It is far and away the largest religious institution in the world (with no close second). It is the largest charitable institution in the world (with no close second), the largest educator of people in the world (with no close second), the largest provider of health care in the world (with no close second), the largest and most vigorous defender of human rights in the world (with no close second)--every year dozens of nuns and priests are martyred in places like Liberian, Sierra Leone, Colombia, and East Timor for standing up to government and/or rebel thugs. The Church has fostered the most fertile intellectual tradition the world has ever known-from Paul, Augustine, Aquinas, and Bonaventure, to Evelyn Waugh, Flannery O'Conner, Graham Greene, Jacques Maritain, and Etienne Gilson.
Crocker is right to reflect in his narrative that this ought to astound people--if the Church were tops in only 2 of these categories, it would still be the most amazing institution around. The Church's growth, vigor, vitality and strength continue to confound those in every age who either pledge to destroy it (as did Napoleon and Hitler, for example) or confidently predict its extinction if it doesn't change with the times (i.e., lighten up and say it's okay if folks sleep around).
Regardless of what one believes, that is a truely astounding story, and an immense story. Crocker has done an very admirable job of capturing most of this story in one very readable volume. It's quite a remarkable accomplishment.
54 of 58 people found the following review helpful
Fun read 10 April 2007
By bookscdsdvdsandcoolstuff - Published on
Format: Paperback
As a faithful, orthodox, Catholic this book was a fun read for me. It presents an entirely factual and pro-Catholic view of the history of the Church. It is unapologetically triumphalist (just see the title!) and well footnoted.

It is, however, not a serious work of academic history. It is more of a "'History of Christendom' for Dummies." (more on the History of Christendom later) In its defense, it doesn't pretend to be anything else. However, I wish the book had more academic heft. Writing a book like this will engage people. When they are engaged, it is nice to prevent them from having ready and easy criticisms.

Several reviews here (all protestant and/or secularist and stinging with righteous indignation) point out the books flaws. Crocker uses secondary sources too much. He engages in too much polemic. He doesn't tell both sides of the story. These criticisms, while they contain some validity, are overblown.

Writing an unbiased history was not Crocker's purpose. Pick up the dust jacket, look at the design, and read the flaps and the book itself tells you that. Unlike several anti-Catholic "history" books regarding the reformation I have picked up, this book does not pretend to be unbiased. Peruse the reviews of Crocker's book and one sees that many Protestants still have the gall to claim that only fellow Protestants can write unbiased histories of the reformation.

Writing a pro-Catholic history of the Catholic Church was Crocker's purpose. If one can't deduce that from looking at the jacket, then one has poor deductive reasoning skills! Interestingly enough, despite the books flaws, his case is relatively strong. Even critics of Crocker point out that he doesn't share any false information in this book.

The use of secondary sources is not as inappropriate as one reviewer claims. MANY, MANY modern histories of ancient times rely on secondary sources. There just isn't that much primary source material out there for some events. Historiography would not exist as a discipline if everyone just went to the primary documents and told the limited tale they could find there.

So why just 3 stars? Despite the fact that I will defend Crocker's right to make a case regarding the history of the Church to anyone, I simply don't like the book's approach. It is fun and funny; yet it is supposed to be history. Crocker can write, but he is no historian. He writing style is flip, irreverent, and arrogant. I often feel that books written in this manner are insulting my intelligence. For instance, I don't care much for Ann Coulter either. She and Crocker have a similar writing style, and a similar taste for polemics.

Furthermore, Crocker has his culturally protestant leanings which are left over from before his conversion. Too often I have seen him in interviews criticizing the Magesterium he proclaims to defend. The grounds of his seemingly constant criticism of the last two popes? They failed to support the US invasion of Iraq. Just read his sections on the Crusades in this book to see Crocker's pro-war bias. Crocker is so pro-war that it makes my eyes hurt to read his stuff.

Because of these flaws, I am forced to give Crocker's book 3 stars out of five; I would recommend alternate readings to get one started on Catholic history that do not suffer from Crocker's weaknesses.

Warren H. Carroll for instance is a scholar of serious weight. He holds a Ph.D. in history from Columbia University and is the founder and past president of Christendom College.

His EXCELLENT multi volume series on the History of Christendom (each volume roughly 500 pages or so) is the real deal. It tells much the same history Crocker tells, but he tells it with SERIOUS scholarly ammunition: the best sources, the best argumentation, and the best writing. He has counterarguments against other scholars at the ready and engages his colleagues in his copious footnotes. Even though Carroll's books are LONG, they are engaging and read easily. He stays away from using too much academic jargon; any reasonably educated person could read them.

I found the Cleaving Of Christendom: History Of Christendom Vol 4, which is the volume that deals with the reformation, most engaging and informative. If one finds Crocker too simplistic, too flippant, too over the top, I would check out Dr. Carroll's work.
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