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Santamaria's Salesman: Working for the National Catholic Rural Movement 1959-1961

Santamaria's Salesman: Working for the National Catholic Rural Movement 1959-1961

9781921946165
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Bob Santamaria might be deceased, but his legacy continues. Learn about the man who was a ‘crucial mentor’ for Prime Minister, Tony Abbott since the early 1970’s. Discover the actual influence and the impact of Bob Santamaria in this illuminating account of his involvement and actions which lead to the destruction of the Australian National Secretariat of Catholic Action, the acrimonious split within the Catholic bishops and, eventually, the disastrous split within the Australian Labor Party, which led to conservative rule federally for twenty-three years.

Santamaria’s Salesman explains how B.A. (Bob) Santamaria got it wrong. So wrong that his misguided actions in the 1950s led to the destruction of the Australian National Secretariat of Catholic Action, the acrimonious split within the Catholic bishops and, eventually, the disastrous split within the Australian Labor Party, which led to conservative rule federally for twenty-three years.

Santamaria’s Salesman is not just another book about Santamaria and his secret movement working within the trade union movement to defeat communism. Others have done that. It is not even a book about communism or politics. It is a book about Catholic Action and how Santamaria saw his role as the leader of Catholic Action in Australia. This is the first published work to analyse Santamaria’s leadership of the National Catholic Rural Movements (NCRM). To understand Santamaria is to understand how he led the NCRM.

The author of Santamaria’s Salesman, Kevin Peoples, worked for Santamaria’s National Catholic Rural Movement (NCRM) from 1959-1961. He resigned in dramatic circumstances at the 1961 convention when he realized Santamaria’s views on Catholic Action were not his own.

This is the story of a naïve young man, trained in Catholic Action in the Young Christian Workers Movement (YCW), who found himself in very deep water when he sought to transform the NCRM into a genuine movement of Catholic Action. Seeking help from his YCW friends, he was unaware of their own plans for the Rural Movement.

This is an exciting memoir and history. It is a dramatic story, beautifully written in poetic prose that captures the spirit of the times. It is the first published work to draw on primary source material from the Santamaria files held by the State Library of Victoria since the publication of the Santamaria documents edited by P. Morgan.

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First of all, I found it fascinating. It is well written. At times the racy style and personal involvement made me tear through from page to page. I learned a great deal that I had never even suspected about NCRM, NCC etc and Santamaria himself. Secondly, the argument is sound. You use your sources with discrimination, you draw appropriate conclusions. When you tell the reader 'Now this is what I think happened', you are objective and reasonable. Just as an aside, having examined many PhD theses in recent years, your use of sources and interpretation would put many to shame. In another literary genre, this could be a clear doctoral thesis. - Emeritus Professor Robert Crotty

You certainly capture the spirit and colour of those times.....I felt at times as though I was in the back seat of ‘powder blue’,and certainly provides a context to explain a number of things to me. - Tim Walsh

This book then is not simply some history book. It has much to say to us in explanation of many of the problems that explain the predicament Catholicism is in today with the vast majority of the baptised fast losing interest in participating in the sacramental and liturgical life of their church. - Brian Coyne

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