Paperback Writers: Just Out in Paper For Your Courses (With One Glaring Exception)

Paul Harvey

Some of our favorite books of the last couple of years which we've featured here at RiAH are coming out in paper now, just in time for use in your school year courses (not yet true of my newest Through the Storm, but your students will treasure the volume so much that they won't mind buying it in hard cover).

First, and Matt Sutton has already covered this, Steven Miller's outstanding biography/analysis Billy Graham and the Rise of the Republican South is out in paper. Any book liked this much by both Ross Douthat and Randall Stephens is sure to have wide appeal -- that's like appealing to John McCain and Andy Warhol fans at the same time. Steven's book is perfect for modern U.S. history courses, expertly covering issues in religious, social, and political history all at once, and engaging students with a figure that they might assume they know well, but will know much better after reading the book.

Next, Kip Kosek's award-winning Acts of Conscience: Christian
Nonviolence and Modern American Democracy is just out in paper with Columbia Univ. Press. It's been a while since we've discussed the book here, so let me just call you back to my lengthy post/discussion of the book here, right when it first came out. A brief excerpt from that previous post:

The savviest of the individuals in this book understood that a principle could become a spectacle, and indeed that it must become a spectacle if it was to draw sufficient public attention to make a difference. It was all well and good to tie in nonviolence with challenges to “capitalism, imperialism, racism, and war”; it was another, and something more effective to make Christian nonviolence a complex strategy as well as a religious conviction.” (50) Long before the kinds of people covered in recent texts, the radicals in this book understood race in global rather than national terms, and understood racial violence as a sub-species of the problem of violence more generally. The racial problem was, for them, “contiguous with the problem of violence.”

Just one more to mention, and this one isn't quite "newly" in paper, but recent enough: Chris Beneke's Beyond Toleration: The Religious Origins of American Pluralism, a work that made me rethink the entire periodization and conceptualization of pluralism. In "Beyond Toleration, and Beyond Those Yellowed Classroom Notes," I reflected at length on Chris's book and its challenge to my presentation of this material in the classroom.

And finally, I want to yell a little bit at one of my normally favorite presses, Harvard University Press, which has done such a great job with Randall Stephens's The Fire Spreads and Matt Sutton's Aimee Semple McPherson and the Resurrection of Christian America, both handsomely done up in paperback, very classroom-usable form. So, to Harvard Press, what is UP with no paperback classroom-usable volume of Emma Anderson's magnificently moving book The Betrayal of Faith: The Tragic Story of a Colonial Native Convert. Shortly after its publication I published an extensive interview with the author, and I expected that the book could become a classroom staple of colonial history. But as long as it's in hardcover at $51, that is not likely to happen. Please, Harvard Press, set the book free -- put it out in paper! Allez! Allez!


Randall said…
Here, here.

How long does it usually take a book to go paper? Two years or so?
Curtis J. Evans said…
I would like to know why the heck Harvard University Press has not yet put out a paperback edition of Amy Koehlinger's "The New Nuns." I cannot justify asking students to purchase the expensive hb, even though I have such high regard for Amy's scholarship. The book was originally published in 2007! What's up with THAT?
Chas Clifton said…
If you're interested in Aimee, how about a review of another new bio, this one from Equinox?