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Church and State in the City provides the first comprehensive analysis of the city's long debate about the public interest. Historian William Issel explores the complex ways that the San Francisco Catholic Church-and its lay men and women-developed relationships with the local businesses, unions, other community groups, and city government to shape debates about how to define-and implement-the common good. Issel's deeply researched narrative also sheds new light on the city's socialists, including Communist Party activists-the most important transnational challengers of both capitalism and Catholicism during the twentieth century. Moreover, Church and State in the City is revisionist in challenging the notion that the history of urban politics and policy can be best understood as the unfolding of a progressive, secular modernization of urban political culture. Issel shows how tussles over the public interest in San Francisco were both distinctive to the city and shaped by its American character.
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William Issel is Professor of History Emeritus at San Francisco State University and Visiting Professor of History at Mills College. He is the author of For Both Cross and Flag: Catholic Action, Anti-Catholicism, and National Security Politics in World War II San Francisco (Temple) and Social Change in the United States 1945–1983. He is the coauthor of San Francisco, 1865–1932: Politics, Power, and Urban Development, and co-editor and contributor to American Labor and the Cold War: Grassroots Politics and Postwar Political Culture.Review:
"A tour de force by a master historian. It places the Catholic Church at the forefront of an analysis which shows how San Francisco developed a moderate liberal political culture after the 1890s. Issel's book is especially apt at describing the myriad demographic and cultural forces which formed a new politics that replaced this essentially New Deal politics, post 1980." - Roger Lotchin, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
"Issel has illuminated the Bay City's twentieth-century political culture by accentuating the role of Catholic social teaching and the agency of activists who effectively mobilized in behalf of this faith-based vision of the public interest. An important contribution to California studies and a model for scholars who are discovering the richer and more complex urban history of the American West." - Steven M. Avella, Marquette University.
"Issel's extensively researched study puts Catholics and Catholic values at the center of San Francisco's public policy-making process throughout much of the twentieth century and thereby challenges nearly all recent studies of the city's political history. It is therefore a must read not only for the history of San Francisco, but also for twentieth-century urban history more generally." - Robert Cherny, San Francisco State University
"Issel convincingly shows that Catholic institutions shaped San Francisco's history far more than is understood. And from its backing of unions, civil rights, and the needs of the very poor, the Catholic Church fulfilled its mission of working for San Francisco's greater good." - Randy Shaw, BeyondChron: San Francisco's Alternative Online Daily News
"Issel's book represents a fairly new and intriguing thrust among historians to chart religion and politics at local municipal levels."
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