New Books in American Religious History: 2016 Year in Preview, Part Two (May-August)

Paul Putz

It's time for part two of the 2016 book preview list. This one will cover books published in May through August. If you missed part one (books published January-April), you can check it out here. Part three will be posted in late August, and will feature books published in September-December.

The usual preface: I've listed the books in roughly chronological order based on the month of their tentative release date. Although I've tried to include as many relevant and interesting titles as I could find, I'm sure that I left out some deserving books. Sometimes this is because publishers don't have updated information on their websites, and sometimes it's because I just missed it. Please feel free to use the comments to add to this list and I can update the post as needed.

As for how I define what is "American" in American religion (to say nothing of what is "religion" in American religion), for the purposes of these lists I mostly follow Kathryn Gin Lum's response in this IUPUI RAAC forum. There, she articulated an understanding of "America" as the region that eventually became known as the United States. That definition does have problems, of course, which is why your contributions to this list -- contributions which envision "America" differently -- are more than welcome.

Now, on to the books! (after this collage to add some color to any social media links)


John T. McGreevy, American Jesuits and the World: How an Embattled Religious Order Made Modern Catholicism Global (Princeton University Press)
Robert Orsi: "Told through brilliantly rendered portraits, American Jesuits and the World describes how European Jesuits, unmoored by revolution in their home countries, fled to the United States and from their new home contributed to shaping a distinctly Catholic global modernity. This is not solely a book about a religious order, but a new history of American Catholicism. A stunning achievement."

Susan Juster, Sacred Violence in Early America (University of Pennsylvania Press)
Jon Butler: "...a marvelously sophisticated, energetic, and especially learned integration of European and American history on a tragically vexed subject. Susan Juster explores not just the 'background' notions about violence and its religious content but vividly demonstrates their often devastating transatlantic relationships up to the American Revolution."

Darren E. Grem, The Blessings of Business: How Corporations Shaped Conservative Christianity (Oxford University Press)
Kathryn Lofton: "Few areas of scholarship are livelier than that addressing the Christian history of American business. Into this dynamic community of research, Darren Grem regales us with the uncanny abilities of evangelical businessmen in their negotiation of the marketplace. He demonstrates that evangelicalism doesn't just define the outlook of a minority of American businesses. Rather, he shows how born-again theologies and politics became embedded in corporate managerial strategies. Matters of business in America are, Grem demonstrates, always also matters of faith."

Bruce Gordon, John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion: A Biography (Princeton University Press)
From the publisher: "Gordon explores the origins and character of the Institutes, looking closely at its theological and historical roots, and explaining how it evolved through numerous editions to become a complete summary of Reformation doctrine....Following Calvin's death in 1564, the Institutes continued to be reprinted, reedited, and reworked through the centuries. Gordon describes how it has been used in radically different ways, such as in South Africa, where it was invoked both to defend and attack the horror of apartheid. He examines its vexed relationship with the historical Calvin—a figure both revered and despised—and charts its robust and contentious reception history, taking readers from the Puritans and Voltaire to YouTube, the novels of Marilynne Robinson, and to China and Africa, where the Institutes continues to find new audiences today."

Tina Block, The Secular Northwest: Religion and Irreligion in Everyday Postwar Life (University of British Columbia Press)
David B. Marshall: "The Secular Northwest is a tour de force. Tina Block integrates oral history with a vast and careful reading of the historiography of the Pacific Northwest – and not just that of religion and secularity but also gender, class, race, and place – to animate the unique characteristics of everyday non-religious life in British Columbia and Washington State."

Ruben van Luijk, Children of Lucifer: The Origins of Modern Religious Satanism (Oxford University Press)
From the publisher: "...traces the movement's development from a concept invented by a Christian church eager to demonize its internal and external competitors to a positive (anti-)religious identity embraced by various groups in the modern West. Van Luijk offers a comprehensive intellectual history of this long and unpredictable trajectory. This story involves Romantic poets, radical anarchists, eccentric esotericists, Decadent writers, and schismatic exorcists, among others, and culminates in the establishment of the Church of Satan by carnival entertainer Anton Szandor LaVey. Yet it is more than a collection of colorful characters and unlikely historical episodes. The emergence of new attitudes toward Satan proves to be intimately linked to the ideological struggle for emancipation that transformed the West and is epitomized by the American and French Revolutions. It is also closely connected to secularization, that other exceptional historical process which saw Western culture spontaneously renounce its traditional gods and enter into a self-imposed state of religious indecision."

Vincent W. Lloyd, Black Natural Law (Oxford University Press)
From the publisher: "...offers a new way of understanding the African American political tradition. Iconoclastically attacking left (including James Baldwin and Audre Lorde), right (including Clarence Thomas and Ben Carson), and center (Barack Obama), Vincent William Lloyd charges that many Black leaders today embrace secular, white modes of political engagement, abandoning the deep connections between religious, philosophical, and political ideas that once animated Black politics. By telling the stories of Frederick Douglass, Anna Julia Cooper, W. E. B. Du Bois, and Martin Luther King, Jr., Lloyd shows how appeals to a higher law, or God's law, have long fueled Black political engagement."

Brett J. Esaki, Enfolding Silence: The Transformation of Japanese American Religion and Art under Oppression (Oxford University Press)
Rita Nakashima Brock: "This fascinating, nuanced study of silence as non-binary communication makes a compelling case for its capacity to transcend words. Through the specificity of Japanese American experiences, Esaki enables us to understand silence in trauma, political resistance, aesthetics, and spirituality and to value vulnerability as awareness of radiant presence in creativity, beauty, and art."

Chad Williams, Kidada E. Williams, and Keisha N. Blain, Charleston Syllabus: Readings on Race, Racism, and Racial Violence (University of Georgia Press)
Leslie M. Harris: "A signal contribution, this timely volume provides the central historical and contemporary contexts for teachers, students, and the general public seeking to understand the tragic events in Charleston in 2015. Building on the possibilities inherent in digital crowdsourcing, Charleston Syllabus inaugurates a new model of engagement between academia and the general public around the most pressing issues of our time."

Kate Hennessy, ed. Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker (Fordham University Press)
Robert Ellsberg: "This book is a magic lantern that brings Dorothy Day to life in all her miraculous humanity. Vivian Cherry’s photographs and Kate Hennessy’s moving text capture Day, with striking intimacy, in all the roles that defined her: as a woman of prayer and protest, companion of the poor, doting grandmother, and leader of the Catholic Worker family. Together with selections from Day’s own writings, they transport us into a world in which seemingly ordinary people have tried, with extraordinary faith, to live as if the gospel were true.”

Candy Gunther Brown and Mark Silk, eds., The Future of Evangelicalism in America (Columbia University Press)
Mark Noll: "The thoughtful, well-informed, wide-ranging, and up-to-date chapters of this book offer an excellent introduction to contemporary American evangelicals. Of special note is the skill with which authors and editor Candy Gunther Brown chart the great diversity among evangelical Protestant movements that nonetheless remain identifiably linked by their adherence to the Bible, their commitment to personal Christian conversion. and their adaptability within contemporary culture."

Douglas Osto, Altered States: Buddhism and Psychedelic Spirituality in America (Columbia University Press)
Franz Metcalf: "...deftly guides us through the neglected territory of psychedelic Buddhism. This is a fascinating story, full of vivid characters and supported by solid research. Still, I believe it makes a greater contribution in situating these practices and persons in the larger contexts of tantra, of American religion, and of cutting edge neuropsychology and consciousness studies."

Alexander Z. Gurwitz, Memories of Two Generations: A Yiddish Life in Russia and Texas (University of Alabama Press)
Mark K. Bauman: “Gurwitz's memoir provides an almost unmatched glimpse into the daily life, folk and foodways, educational system, and family patterns of traditional East European Jews of the place and time—a real-life Fiddler on the Roof. The detail of the life of a yeshivah student and young Jewish functionary, as well as of Hassidic life are extraordinary yet this story goes beyond that to show Gurwitz’s middle age attempts to maintain tradition after immigrating to San Antonio, Texas. Bryan Edward Stone’s outstanding introduction and commentary places the memoir in historical context and highlights the important themes.”

Christopher Douglas, If God Meant to Interfere: American Literature and the Rise of the Christian Right (Cornell University Press)
Tracy Fessenden: " eloquent, learned, and utterly engrossing study of American literature and culture in an era of resurgent religious conservatism."

Eileen Campbell-Reed, Anatomy of a Schism: How Clergywomen's Narratives Reinterpret the Fracturing of the Southern Baptist Convention (University of Tennessee Press)
From the publisher: "...the first book on the Southern Baptist split to place ordained women’s narratives at the center of interpretation. Author Eileen Campbell-Reed brings her unique perspective as a pastoral theologian in conducting qualitative interviews with five Baptist clergywomen and allowing their narratives to focus attention on both psychological and theological issues of the split. The stories she uncovers offer a compelling new structure for understanding the path of Southern Baptists at the close of the twentieth century."

Darryl W. Stephens, Methodist Morals: Social Principles in the Public Church's Witness (University of Tennessee Press)
From the publisher: "This is the first full-length study of Methodist social teachings in over fifty years. Examining official Methodist teachings from institutional, historical, and cross-cultural perspectives, Darryl Stephens provides a rich analysis of this case study of Protestant social witness, drawing on his expertise in church polity, Methodist history, and Christian social ethics."

Anthony Aveni, Apocalyptic Anxiety: Religion, Science, and America's Obsession with the End of the World (University Press of Colorado)
From the publisher: "...traces the sources of American culture’s obsession with predicting and preparing for the apocalypse. Author Anthony Aveni explores why Americans take millennial claims seriously, where and how end-of-the-world predictions emerge, how they develop within a broader historical framework, and what we can learn from doomsday predictions of the past."

Julie Byrne, The Other Catholics: Remaking America's Largest Religion (Columbia University Press)
Kristy Nabhan-Warren: " excellent book, one that will make important contributions to the fields of Catholic Studies, American Studies, and American Religious history. Moreover, the focus on gender and the dynamics of power and privilege will be of special interest to scholars of gender, women's studies, and sexuality. Byrne's historical, sociological, and anthropological research is at once original and rock solid, and her findings are compelling. Most importantly, her clear and approachable writing style will make this book appealing to a wide swath of readers."

Onaje X.O. Woodbine, Black Gods of the Asphalt: Religion, Hip-Hop, and Street Basketball (Columbia University Press)
Rebecca Alpert: "The stories in Black Gods of the Asphalt are rich and powerful, and are woven together skillfully and beautifully. Woodbine switches between his roles as participant and observer, by turns narrating and analyzing with great dexterity."

Carol Wayne White, Black Lives and Sacred Humanity: Towards an African American Religious Naturalism (Fordham University Press)
Laurel Schneider: "...a major contribution to American religious thought. She deftly constructs a rationale for African American sacred humanism that accomplishes (at least) three important tasks. First, she establishes the compatibility of her notion of sacred humanism with the best of current scientific thought regarding deep relationality in biology and cosmology. Second, she provides a solidly argued alternative to dogmatically theistic assumptions about African American religiosity. Third, White traces an intellectual history of sacred humanism in key American intellectual texts (Du Bois, Cooper, and Baldwin)."

Kerry Mitchell, Spirituality and the State: Managing Nature and Experience in America's National Parks (New York University Press)
John Modern: "Impressively harnessing both historical and ethnographic data, Kerry Mitchell provides a fresh take on the politics of religion-making in America. He offers a counter-narrative to scholarly celebrations of spirituality that is respectful of his subjects and acknowledges the fact that very few of us, if any, have a clear understanding of why we do what we do. Mitchell denaturalizes the concept of spirituality, showing, however, that this mode of piety is not simply made-up. On the contrary, it accomplishes an incredible amount of work in places like the John Muir Trail or Joshua Tree National Park by naturalizing the nation state and socializing the interior states of individuals. This book also generates new insight into what might be called negative aesthetics—that is, how concealment can be revelatory and how the vagueness of nature serves to connect a range of individuals by way of a shared humanity that is rather specifically defined."

Patrick Mason, ed., Directions for Mormon Studies in the Twenty-First Century (University of Utah Press)
Susanna Morrill: "The essays are well written, thoughtful, and represent the best and most forward thinking work in Mormon studies. The authors offer up specific Mormon case studies, but from interpretive positions that make the material interesting and relevant to scholars in other fields.”

Melissa Deckman, Tea Party Women: Mama Grizzlies, Grassroots Leaders, and the Changing Face of the American Right (New York University Press)
Kristen Soltis Anderson: "Too often, the media's caricature of the Tea Party misses the mark on what this movement was all about and why so many women felt drawn to it. In Tea Party Women, Melissa Deckman actually speaks with women in the movement and digs into the data to provide a more nuanced picture of the reasons why the Tea Party attracted many American women."

Kate Holbrook and Matthew Bowman, eds., Women and Mormonism: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives (University of Utah Press)
Rosemary Radford Ruether: “This work provides a comprehensive contribution to a range of historical and contemporary realities of Mormon women. Issues of race, interracial marriage in Mormonism and the experience of Asian Mormons, of European Mormons, of an African, and of an American Indian give important contributions on these themes. This book will take its place as an essential.”

Gregory A. Prince, Leonard Arrington and the Writing of Mormon History (University of Utah Press)
Lester Bush: "This is a well-written, exceptionally documented biography of arguably the most important figure in twentieth-century Mormon intellectual history. It provides a captivating, highly readable history of Arrington's personal and professional life, almost unmatched in LDS biography. It made me wish I could go back and talk with Leonard again, and deservedly will long be the definitive work on the subject."

Patricia Keer Munro, Coming of Age in Jewish America: Bar and Bat Mitzvah Reinterpreted (Rutgers University Press)
Keren McGinity: "Patricia Keer Munro has made an invaluable contribution to Jewish studies by elucidating the bar/bat mitzvah system as a sociological negotiation between emerging adults, their parents, educators, rabbis and congregations. Her analysis illustrates how this Jewish life-cycle ritual both influences and is influenced by traditional and liberal Judaism. The book should be required reading for scholars of Jewish life and communal professionals, as well people of other faiths seeking a better understanding of this pivotal experience."

Chris Lehmann, The Money Cult: Capitalism, Christianity, and the Unmaking of the American Dream (Melville House)
From the publisher: "We think we know the story of American religion: the Puritans were cold, austere, and pious, and Christianity continued pure and uncorrupted until the industrial revolution got in the way. In The Money Cult, Chris Lehmann argues that we have it backwards: capitalism has always been entangled with religion, and so today’s megapastors aren’t an aberration–they’re as American as Benjamin Franklin. The long-awaited first book by a hugely admired journalist, The Money Cult is a sweeping and accessible history that traces American Christianity from John Winthrop to the rise of the Mormon Church to the triumph of Joel Osteen."

Ellen Wayland-Smith, Oneida: From Free Love Utopia to the Well-Set Table (Picador)
From the publisher: "Told by a descendant of one of the Community’s original families, Ellen Wayland-Smith's Oneida is a captivating story that straddles two centuries to reveal how a radical, free-love sect, turning its back on its own ideals, transformed into a purveyor of the white-picket-fence American dream."

Philip Lockley, ed., Protestant Communalism in the Trans-Atlantic World, 1650–1850 (Palgrave Macmillan)
Diarmaid MacCulloch: “This enterprising collection extends our understanding of the social and communal implications of radical Protestant Christianity on both sides of the Atlantic. Lockley's essayists fascinatingly reconstruct the intellectual and theological connections between Britain, Germany and what is now the USA, uniting assorted idealisms which range from Pietist monasticism to the Mormons.”

Lewis V. Baldwin, Behind the Public Veil: The Humanness of Martin Luther King Jr. (Fortress Press)
From the publisher: "What was Martin Luther King Jr. really like? In this groundbreaking volume, Lewis V. Baldwin answers this question by focusing on the man himself. Drawing on the testimonies of friends, family, and closest associates, this volume adds much-needed biographical background to the discussion, as Baldwin looks beyond all of the mythic, messianic, and iconic images to treat King in terms of his fundamental and vivid humanness."

Mark Chung Hearn, Religious Experience Among Second Generation Korean Americans (Palgrave Macmillan) 
From the publisher: "This book explores the ways through which Korean American men demonstrate and navigate their manhood within a US context that has historically sorted them into several limiting, often emasculating, stereotypes."


Stephen Ellingson, To Care for Creation: The Emergence of the Religious Environmental Movement (University of Chicago Press)
Rhys H. Williams: "The religious environmental movement that Ellingson documents is not simply the faith-based component of the wider green movement. He shows that it first and foremost targets religious people and institutions, trying to instill in them new traditions, identities, and ways of fulfilling their sacred duties vis a vis God’s creation. In doing so, Ellingson offers a theoretically integrated approach to studying social movement emergence and development by showing how the creativity and agency of movement actors are culturally and religiously embedded.”

Stephen L. Prince, Hosea Stout: Lawman, Legislator, Mormon Defender (Utah State University Press)
From the publisher: "Hosea Stout witnessed and influenced many of the major civil and political events over fifty years of LDS history, but until the publication of his diaries, he was a relatively obscure figure to historians. Hosea Stout: Lawman, Legislator, Mormon Defender is the first-ever biography of this devoted follower who played a significant role in Mormon and Utah history."

Ron E. Hassner, Religion on the Battlefield (Cornell University Press)
Michael C. Horowitz: "In the authoritative and detailed Religion on the Battlefield, Ron E. Hassner shows that rather than simply being a causal variable that makes wars more or less likely, religion is an encompassing factor that influences entire societies and the way they think about war from beginning to end. Hassner's exploration of the rich relationship between religion and violence and his evaluation of sacred time, space, and authority will greatly improve our understanding of both religion and violence."

Thomas J. Shelley, Fordham: A History of the Jesuit University of New York, 1841-2003 (Fordham University Press)
From the publisher: "Based largely on archival sources in the United States and Rome, this book documents the evolution of Fordham from a small diocesan college into a major American Jesuit and Catholic university. It places the development of Fordham within the context of the massive expansion of Catholic higher education that took place in the United States in the twentieth century....This is honest history that gives due credit to Fordham for its many academic achievements, but it also recognizes that Fordham shared the shortcomings of many Catholic colleges in the United States in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries."

Dan Flores, Coyote America: A Natural and Supernatural History (Basic Books)
From the publisher: "Coyote America is both an environmental and a deep natural history of the coyote. It traces both the five-million-year-long biological story of an animal that has become the 'wolf' in our backyards, as well as its cultural evolution from a preeminent spot in Native American religions to the hapless foil of the Road Runner. A deeply American tale, the story of the coyote in the American West and beyond is a sort of Manifest Destiny in reverse, with a pioneering hero whose career holds up an uncanny mirror to the successes and failures of American expansionism."

Benjamin P. Fagan, The Black Newspaper and the Chosen Nation (University of Georgia Press)
From the publisher: "...shows how the early black press helped shape the relationship between black chosenness and the struggles for black freedom and equality in America, in the process transforming the very notion of a chosen American nation. Exploring how cultures of print helped antebellum black Americans apply their faith to struggles grand and small, The Black Newspaper and the Chosen Nation uses the vast and neglected archive of the early black press to shed new light on many of the central figures and questions of African American studies."

David N. Wetzel, The Vanishing Messiah: The Life and Resurrections of Francis Schlatter (University of Iowa Press)
David Fridtjof Halaas: "“David N. Wetzel has written a masterpiece of compelling biography, history, intrigue, and mystery. His subject is Francis Schlatter, who stunned the nation during the mid-1890s by his Christlike healing of the sick and lame. But Wetzel offers more than just the story of a forgotten miracle worker. The Vanishing Messiah also follows the author’s personal journey to unravel the mystery behind Schlatter’s life and death—altogether a tour de force, with an ending as surprising as it is revealing."

Giorgi Areshidze, Democratic Religion from Locke to Obama: Faith and the Civic Life of Democracy (University Press of Kansas)
Peter J. Ahrensdorf: “This is a genuinely important book, both as a brilliant, original, intellectually stimulating, and engaging study of the theme of religion and liberal democracy and as an exemplar of how political science may investigate the issue of religion and politics with balance, respect, and humanity."

Deborah E. Lipstadt, Holocaust: An American Understanding (Rutgers University Press)
From the publisher: "Immediately after World War II, there was little discussion of the Holocaust, but today the word has grown into a potent political and moral symbol, recognized by all. In Holocaust: An American Understanding, renowned historian Deborah E. Lipstadt explores this striking evolution in Holocaust consciousness, revealing how a broad array of Americans—from students in middle schools to presidents of the United States—tried to make sense of this inexplicable disaster, and how they came to use the Holocaust as a lens to interpret their own history."

Rebecca Barrett-Fox, God Hates: Westboro Baptist Church, American Nationalism, and the Religious Right (University Press of Kansas)
Anthony Petro: "God Hates is a disturbing book, not because it exposes the theology of hate and homophobia of Westboro Baptist Church—though it does so, powerfully and effectively. It is disturbing because it refuses to distance this church movement from more mainstream segments of the political and religious right. In this sensitive study, Rebecca Barrett-Fox reveals Westboro’s theology of hate to be no less than the political and theological unconscious of the modern Christian Right itself—the less palatable but now fully visible heir to America’s ‘Puritan’ legacy.”

Sandra L. Garner, To Come to a Better Understanding: Medicine Men and Clergy Meetings on the Rosebud Reservation, 1973-1978 (University of Nebraska Press)
From the publisher: "...analyzes the cultural encounters of the medicine men and clergy meetings held on Rosebud Reservation in St. Francis, South Dakota, from 1973 through 1978. Organized by Father Stolzman, a Catholic priest studying Lakota religious practice, the meetings fit the goal of the recently formed Medicine Men’s Association to share its members’ knowledge about Lakota thought and ritual. Both groups stated that the purpose of the historic theological discussions was “to come to a better understanding.” Though the groups ended their formal discussions after eighty-four meetings, Sandra L. Garner shows how this cultural exchange reflects a rich Native intellectual tradition and articulates the multiple meanings of “understanding” that necessarily characterize intercultural encounters."

Peter W. Williams, Religion, Art, and Money: Episcopalians and American Culture from the Civil War to the Great Depression (University of North Carolina Press)
Anne Rose: "With great elegance and wit, Peter Williams examines the profound influence Episcopalians had on the United States as it reached modernity. This immensely readable book, replete with telling humor, gives faith a very tangible dimension as it masterfully takes up the crucial subject of the impact of religion on American culture."

Zev Eleff, Who Rules the Synagogue? Religious Authority and the Formation of American Judaism (Oxford University Press)
From the publisher: "...explores how American Jewry in the nineteenth century was transformed from a lay dominated community to one whose leading religious authorities were rabbis. Zev Eleff traces the history of this revolution, culminating in the Pittsburgh rabbinical conference of 1885 and the commotion caused by it."

Tom Head, What the Slaves Believed: Recollections of Faith and Religion in WPA Slave Narratives (Greenwood)
From the publisher: "The only volume on the religious lives of slaves to prioritize primary sources, this book enables students and scholars alike to hear the voices of former slaves by compiling and contextualizing what they had to say about religion. A unique resource, the work collects a variety of faith-related excerpts from the WPA slave narratives and places them in their historical and cultural contexts. Seven topical sections focus on specific aspects of slave life as they related to religion. In addition, there is an introduction that sets the stage for the narratives, a helpful feature on how to evaluate primary sources, a timeline, and a selected bibliography."


Wayne Flynt, Southern Religion and Christian Diversity in the Twentieth Century (University of Alabama Press)
Paul Harvey: "...a splendid retrospective of a great scholar’s career. Flynt dismantles generalizations, shows individual complexity, and, as the title suggests, reveals ‘diversity,’ as well as any scholar I know.”

Thomas A. Robinson, Preacher Girl: Uldine Utley and the Industry of Revival (Baylor University Press)
Kristin Kobes Du Mez: "With lively narrative and vivid detail, Robinson provides a complete account of the life and ministry of Uldine Utley, one of the most prominent, and certainly one of the most fascinating, figures in the history of American revivalism. Those interested in the story of this ‘preacher girl’ can find no better introduction than Robinson’s sympathetic and engaging account."

Sara Paretsky, Words, Works, and Ways of Knowing: The Breakdown of Moral Philosophy in New England before the Civil War (University of Chicago Press)
Margaret Bendroth: "Though some years in coming, Paretsky’s scholarship is surprisingly apt for today. The New England Calvinists she describes with such graceful clarity speak to an earlier time, before we began to assume that religious belief and intellectual rigor were mutually exclusive. Paretsky introduces us to the world of the nineteenth-century ‘Christian scholar,’ using her narrative gift to explore the developing alliance—and deepening tensions—between the life of the mind and the life of faith.”

R. Scott Hanson, City of Gods: Religious Freedom, Immigration, and Pluralism in Flushing, Queens (Fordham University Press)
Robert Orsi: "Flushing, Queens is surely one of the most religiously diverse places on the planet today. Scott Hanson’s study shows how it got this way. This deeply researched and thickly described account of the gods of Flushing makes an important contribution to the history of immigration after the Hart-Cellar Act of 1965 and to the study of American urban religions. City of Gods is as well a timely and necessary contribution to the public debate about the nature of American civilization."

Robert P. Jones, The End of White Christian America (Simon and Schuster)
From the publisher: "Drawing on more than four decades of polling data, The End of White Christian America explains and analyzes the waning vitality of WCA. Jones argues that the visceral nature of today’s most heated issues—the vociferous arguments around same-sex marriage and religious liberty, the rise of the Tea Party following the election of our first black president, and stark disagreements between black and white Americans over the fairness of the criminal justice system—can only be understood against the backdrop of white Christians’ anxieties as America’s racial and religious topography shifts around them."

Mark A. Lause, Free Spirits: Spiritualism, Republicanism, and Radicalism in the Civil War Era (University of Illinois Press)
From the publisher: "...considers spiritualism as a political and cultural force in Civil War era America. Lause reveals the scope, spread, and influence of the movement, both in its links to reformist causes and its ability to amplify previously marginalized voices. Rooting spiritualism's appeal in the crises of the time, Lause considers how spiritualist influences, through the distillation of the war, forced reassessments of the question of Radical Republicanism and radicalism in general. He also delves into unexplored areas such as the movement's role in Lincoln's reelection and the relationship between Native Americans and spiritualists."

Helen Kyong Kim and Noah Samuel Leavitt, JewAsian: Race, Religion, and Identity for America's Newest Jews (University of Nebraska Press)
Keren McGinity: "Essential reading for scholars of intermarriage, inter-partnered couples and families, Jewish outreach professionals, and all students of race, ethnicity, and religion. . . . The alternate narrative Kim and Leavitt offer blasts open the door to new ways of understanding Jewish American, Asian American, and JewAsian identities, challenging dominant racial, ethnic, and interfaith marriage discourses in the process.”

Sarah M. Ross, A Season of Singing: Creating Feminist Jewish Music in the United States (Brandeis University Press)
Ellen Koskoff: “Sarah Ross has brought a wealth of knowledge, insight, and analytic creativity to this study of Jewish music and feminism in the Unites States during the second half of the twentieth century. Connecting various political, ritual, and musical identities and practices with the rise of Jewish feminism, Ross shows how these changing identities opened a creative space for the blossoming of new liturgical and popular musics during this time. Based on years of fieldwork among Jewish feminist composers, cantors, rabbis, and audiences, this book presents, for the first time, a comprehensive history and cultural analysis of this exciting time in Jewish musical history.”

Carol Mattingly, Secret Habits: Catholic Literacy Education for Women in the Early Nineteenth Century (Southern Illinois University Press)
From the publisher: "Literacy historians have credited the Protestant mandate to read scripture, as well as Protestant schools, for advances in American literacy. This belief, however, has overshadowed other important efforts and led to an incomplete understanding of our literacy history. In Secret Habits: Catholic Literacy Education for Women in the Early Nineteenth Century, Carol Mattingly restores the work of Catholic nuns and sisters to its rightful place in literacy studies. Mattingly shows that despite widespread fears and opposition, including attacks by vaunted northeastern Protestant pioneers of literacy, Catholic women nonetheless became important educators of women in many areas of America."

Mark Douglas McGarvie, Law and Religion in American History: Public Values and Private Conscience (Cambridge University Press)
Mark Valeri: "It is high time for a broad, historically informed reconsideration of law and religion in American history, and Mark McGarvie has given us just that. This book will enlighten its readers and provoke further conversation about social responsibility and individual liberty in American life."

Zvi Gitelman, ed., The New Jewish Diaspora: Russian-speaking Immigrants in the United States, Israel, and Germany (Rutgers University Press)
From the publisher: "In 1900 over five million Jews lived in the Russian empire; today, there are four times as many Russian-speaking Jews residing outside the former Soviet Union than there are in that region. The New Jewish Diaspora is the first English-language study of the Russian-speaking Jewish diaspora. This migration has made deep marks on the social, cultural, and political terrain of many countries, in particular the United States, Israel, and Germany. The contributors examine the varied ways these immigrants have adapted to new environments, while identifying the common cultural bonds that continue to unite them."


Patrick Mason and John Turner, eds., Out of Obscurity: Mormonism since 1945 (Oxford University Press)
From the publisher: "While most scholarship on Mormonism concerns its colorful but now well-known early history, the essays in this collection assess recent developments, such as the LDS Church's international growth and acculturation; its intersection with conservative politics in recent decades; its stances on same-sex marriage and the role of women; and its ongoing struggle to interpret its own tumultuous history. The scholars draw on a wide variety of Mormon voices as well as those of outsiders, from Latter-day Saints in Hyderabad, India, to "Mormon Mommy blogs," to evangelical 'countercult' ministries. Out of Obscurity brings the story of Mormonism since the Second World War into sharp relief, explaining the ways in which a church very much rooted in its nineteenth-century prophetic and pioneering past achieved unprecedented influence in the realms of American politics and international business."

Barry Hankins, Woodrow Wilson: Ruling Elder, Spiritual President (Oxford University Press)
From the publisher: "In Woodrow Wilson: Ruling Elder, Spiritual President, Barry Hankins tells the story of Wilson's religion as he moved from the Calvinist orthodoxy of his youth to a progressive, spiritualized religion short on doctrine and long on morality."

Finbarr Curtis, The Production of American Religious Freedom (New York University Press)
Jason C. Bivins: "At a moment when scholars of religion are rethinking their contribution to public debate, Finbarr Curtis’s The Production of American Religious Freedom exemplifies the power of sustained academic engagement with the assumptions and histories that shape our fractious condition and toxic discourse...Learned, provocative, and interdisciplinary in the best sense, this book is an archaeology of conceptual confusion and a model for new conversations that might deepen our understandings of American religion and public life, historically and at present."

Colin B. Chapell, Ye That Are Men Now Serve Him: Radical Holiness Theology and Gender in the South (University of Alabama Press)
From the publisher: "Modernity remade much of the world in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and was nowhere more transformational than in the American South. In the wake of the Civil War, the region not only formed new legal, financial, and social structures, but citizens of the South also faced disorienting uncertainty about personal identity and even gender itself. Ye That Are Men Now Serve Him traces the changes in southern gender roles during the New South period of 1877–1915 and demonstrates that religion is the key to perceiving how constructions of gender changed."

Kenyatta R. Gilbert, A Pursued Justice: Black Preaching from the Great Migration to Civil Rights (Baylor University Press)
From the publisher: "In the wake of a failed Reconstruction period, widespread agricultural depression, and the rise of Jim Crow laws, and triggered by America’s entry into World War I, a flood of southern Blacks moved from the south to the urban centers of the North. This Great Migration transformed northern Black churches and produced a new mode of preaching—prophetic Black preaching—which sought to address this brand new context. Black clerics such as Baptist pastor Reverend Adam Clayton Powell Sr., A.M.E. Bishop Reverdy Cassius Ransom, and A.M.E. Zion pastor Florence Spearing Randolph rose up within these congregations. From their pulpits, these pastors proclaimed truth and power for hope across racial, ethnic, and class lines both within their congregations and between the Black community and the wider culture. A Pursued Justice profiles these three ecclesiastically inventive clerics of the first half of the twentieth century whose strident voices gave birth to a distinctive form of prophetic preaching."

Nicolas Howe, Landscapes of the Secular: Law, Religion, and American Sacred Space (University of Chicago Press)
Winnifred Sullivan: “In this passionate book, Howe describes the agonistic traveling circus of litigation that is the effort of Americans to have their cake and eat it too when it comes to pluralism and religious freedom. Teaching us to look with greater care at the landscapes that are made and remade through law about religion, Howe makes an important contribution to our often lazy theorizing about why places matter, legally and religiously. With subtle erudition, Landscapes of the Secular argues for the multiple registers in which landscapes exert agency, inextricably linking religious subjectivities with geographic selves.”

Faegheh Shirazi, Brand Islam: The Marketing and Commodification of Piety (University of Texas Press)
From the publisher: "Focusing on the rise of 'Brand Islam,' this book considers how the highly lucrative marketing of goods and services as 'Islamic' or 'halal' is reshaping the religious, cultural, and economic lives of Muslim consumers and communities around the globe."

Uzi Rebhun, Jews and the American Religious Landscape (Columbia University Press)
Chaim I. Waxman: "Rebhun has produced a pioneering study that provides an in-depth comparative analysis of the socio-political and religious patterns of America's Jews, and is a major contribution to our understanding of the place of Jews in America's religious landscape."

Aaron W. Hughes, Jacob Neusner: An American Jewish Iconoclast (New York University Press)
Laura S. Levitt: "Not only is Jacob Neusner a much needed, long awaited biography of perhaps the most important American Jewish thinker of the mid to late twentieth century, but it offers a window into the creation of Jewish studies in the American academy. Aaron Hughes illuminates Neusner’s pathbreaking role in the construction of Judaic studies scholarship as we now know it. More than this, he presents a balanced account of Neusner the radical, innovative, compelling and rambunctious scholar and Neusner the conservative political activist and public intellectual."

Jared Hickman, Black Prometheus: Race and Radicalism in the Age of Atlantic Slavery (Oxford University Press)
From the publisher: "Black Prometheus addresses the specific conditions under and the pointed implications with which an ancient story about different orders of gods dueling over the fate of humanity became such a prominent fixture of Atlantic modernity."

Jeffrey Einboden, The Islamic Lineage of American Literary Culture: Muslim Sources from the Revolution to Reconstruction (Oxford University Press)
From the publisher: "Uncovering Islam's formative impact on U.S. literary origins, Jeffrey Einboden traces neglected genealogies of Islamic reception from the Revolution to Reconstruction. Privileging informal engagements and intimate exchanges, the book excavates personal appeals to Islamic sources by pivotal figures of the early nation--Ezra Stiles, William Bentley, Washington Irving, Lydia Maria Child, Ralph Waldo Emerson--and discovers Muslim discourse woven into the familiar fabric of their letters and sermons, journals and journalism, memoirs and marginalia."

Josef Sorett, Spirit in the Dark: A Religious History of Racial Aesthetics (Oxford University Press)
From the publisher: "Most of the major black literary and cultural movements of the twentieth century have been understood and interpreted as secular and, at times, profane. When religion has figured into scholarly accounts of these moments, it has almost always appeared as tangential or inconsequential. In Spirit in the Dark, Josef Sorett upends this narrative by exploring the ways in which religion continued to animate and organize African American literary visions throughout the years between the New Negro Renaissance of the 1920s and the Black Arts movement of the 1960s."

Jonathan M. Yeager, Jonathan Edwards and Transatlantic Print Culture (Oxford University Press)
From the publisher: "...religious historian Jonathan Yeager tells the story of how Edwards's works were published, including the people who were involved in their publication and their motivations. This book explores what the printing, publishing, and editing of Jonathan Edwards's publications can tell us about religious print culture in the eighteenth century, how the way that his books were put together shaped society's understanding of him as an author, and how details such as the formats, costs, quality of paper, length, bindings, and the number of reprints and abridgements of his works affected their reception."

Deborah Whitehead, Christian Evangelicals and Digital Media: Mediating the Gospel in Contemporary America (Routledge)
From the publisher: "This book provides a critical interpretation of media engagement among American evangelicals today—in the age of tweets, smart phones, bloggers, 24-hour news, and an almost infinite number of TV channels. It focuses on a new generation of tech-savvy U.S. evangelicals--including so called 'New Evangelicals'--who share a similar utilitarian understanding of media. It asks how that understanding shapes, and is shaped by, religious beliefs and practices."

Matthew Pehl, The Making of Working-Class Religion (University of Illinois Press)
Jon Butler: "Matthew Pehl's subtle and stunning book describes the remarkable moments when working class identities and religion remarkably converged in America's quintessential manufacturing city--Detroit--first from the 1920s to the 1940s, then as they fractured amidst the racial, ethnic, gender, and political shifts after World War II. Pehl incisively describes the possibilities and tensions, and achievements and failures, that encouraged and undermined bonds between religion and the working classes in an uneasily complex American city. A terrific achievement and enthralling read."

Dennis Barone, Beyond Memory: Italian Protestants in Italy and America (State University of New York Press)
From the publisher: "In Beyond Memory, Dennis Barone uncovers the richness and diversity of the Italian Protestant experience and places it in the context of migration and political and social life in both Italy and the United States."


esclark at: April 20, 2016 at 8:26 AM said...

I am looking forward to so many of these books! Thanks for the preview/reminders Paul!

Julie Byrne at: April 23, 2016 at 11:51 AM said...

Thanks, Paul and RAH for this service, and congrats to all the new May-August authors!

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