The most versatile and highly respected academic leader in the United States, Father Theodore Hesburgh was known for his rare energy and ability to carry out a staggering variety of assignments with distinction. He combined an exceptional blend and balance of qualities-intellect, character, personality, spirituality, and management skill. A man of enormous good will, he tried to embody the compassion of Christ.
During his career as president of the University of Notre Dame from 1952 to 1987, enrollment doubled, the endowment grew from $9 million to $350 million, and the number of buildings on campus increased from 48 to 88. At the time of his retirement, his signature was on the degrees of four out of five living Notre Dame graduates.
While transforming Notre Dame into a great university, he transformed himself into a national figure with influence far beyond his campus. He was tapped for service by every American president since Eisenhower and by three popes. His fifteen Presidential appointments involved him in almost all the major social issues, and for fifteen years he served on the U.S. Civil Rights Commission.
This book examines Fr. Hesburgh's personality, leadership qualities, management strategies, and central role as a priest. It chronicles his prominent position in advancing civil rights and explores his relationship with famous people, among them John and Robert Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, and Pope Paul VI. Finally, the biography investigates unfamiliar aspects of his life: his relationship with women and his six "adopted" children, his attitude toward Notre Dame's high profile football program, and his sometimes controversial views on the Vatican, celibacy, birth control, abortion, and homosexuality.
Michael O'Brien is professor of history at the University of Wisconsin-Fox Valley, Menasha, Wisconsin. He is the author of McCarthy and McCarthyism in Wisconsin (1981), Vince: A Personal Biography of Vince Lombardi (1987), and Senator Phillip Hart: The Conscience of the Senate (1996).
"A fascinating examination of the Hesburgh era and his towering legacy of service to his church, his country, and his fellow citizens."--Today's Catholic
"O'Brien draws on archives and interviews as well as secondary research to produce a thorough survey of the life and character of perhaps the most powerful Catholic priest in the post-World War II U.S."--Booklist
"The world has urgently needed a comprehensive study of Fr. Hesburgh's phenomenal accomplishments. . . . [This book] is very adequate for chronicling and studying the career of one of the Church's most significant individuals of the century. O'Brien's research, including interviews with many who worked with Hesburgh, is solid. If other analyses of the work of Fr. Hesburgh are forthcoming, they will surely rely heavily on this biography. Public and academic libraries, and those parish libraries serving Notre Dame alumni, will do well to purchase this book."--Catholic Library World
"A detailed but accessible biography. . . Although O'Brien's account is strictly chronological and rarely attempts interpretation his biography of a life of single-minded devotion will interest readers already fascinated by Hesburgh as well as those who meet him here for the first time."--Publishers Weekly
"O'Brien has done a good job of synthesizing the long list of books, articles, diaries and other things written by and about Father Ted. He alos has interviewed 118 people who worked with Father Ted or otherwise know him well. The result is a book that not only chronicles his notable accomplishments but also tells us what makes Father Ted tick. . . . For all who admire this amazing man, and for those who don't know him, I recommend this book."--St. Anthony Messenger
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