New Books in American Religious History: 2016 Year in Preview, Part Three (September-December)

Paul Putz

It's time for part three of the 2016 book preview list. This one will cover books published in September through December. If you missed the first two lists, here is part one and here is part two.

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)


Frances Levine, Doña Teresa Confronts the Spanish Inquisition: A Seventeenth-Century New Mexican Drama (University of Oklahoma Press)
Rick Hendricks: “Frances Levine provides a rare glimpse into the society of Spanish colonial New Mexico as seen through the eyes of Doña Teresa Aguilera y Roche, wife of Governor Bernardo López de Mendizábal. No other body of documentation reveals as much about the period before the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 as does Levine’s examination of the couple’s trial by the Inquisition. Levine deftly recounts Doña Teresa’s passionate and poignant defense against her accusers. A rare example of the writings of a highly literate woman living in seventeenth-century Mexico, Doña Teresa Confronts the Spanish Inquisition also makes an important contribution to scholarship on women in colonial Latin America.”

Albert J. Raboteau, American Prophets: Seven Religious Radicals and Their Struggle for Social and Political Justice (Princeton University Press)
From the publisher: "...sheds critical new light on the lives and thought of seven major prophetic figures in twentieth-century America whose social activism was motivated by a deeply felt compassion for those suffering injustice....tells the remarkable stories of Abraham Joshua Heschel, A. J. Muste, Dorothy Day, Howard Thurman, Thomas Merton, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Fannie Lou Hamer—inspired individuals who succeeded in conveying their vision to the broader public through writing, speaking, demonstrating, and organizing."

Leigh Eric Schmidt, Village Atheists: How America's Unbelievers Made Their Way in a Godly Nation (Princeton University Press)
David Hollinger: "This is a fresh, lively, discerning account of popular freethought. Schmidt shows how resilient and resourceful have been the minority of Americans who publicly refuse belief in God. Amid vehement efforts by the religious majority to suppress them, these hated ‘village atheists’ managed to expand gradually the borders of acceptable spiritual orientations. Schmidt’s fascinating subjects are popular writers and cartoonists, not the scientists and philosophers that dominate our standard secularization narrative."

Robert Darden, Nothing but Love in God's Water, Volume 2: Black Sacred Music from Sit-Ins to Resurrection City (Penn State University Press)
From the publisher: "Volume 1 of Nothing but Love in God’s Water traced the music of protest spirituals from the Civil War to the American labor movement of the 1930s and 1940s, and on through the Montgomery bus boycott. This second volume continues the journey, chronicling the role this music played in energizing and sustaining those most heavily involved in the civil rights movement. Robert Darden, former gospel music editor for Billboard magazine and the founder of the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project at Baylor University, brings this vivid, vital story to life. He explains why black sacred music helped foster community within the civil rights movement and attract new adherents; shows how Martin Luther King Jr. and other leaders used music to underscore and support their message; and reveals how the songs themselves traveled and changed as the fight for freedom for African Americans continued. Darden makes an unassailable case for the importance of black sacred music not only to the civil rights era but also to present-day struggles in and beyond the United States."

Ellen Eisenberg, The Jewish Oregon Story 1950-2010 (Oregon State University Press)
From the publisher: "...traces the history of Jewish Oregonians and their communities during a period of dramatic change. Drawing on archival sources, including a collection of over five hundred oral histories, the book explores how Jewish Oregonians both contributed to and were shaped by the 'Oregon Story,' a political shift that fueled Oregon’s—and particularly Portland’s—emerging reputation for progressivism and sustainability."

Melanie E. Trexler, Evangelizing Lebanon: Baptists, Missions, and the Question of Cultures (Baylor University Press)
Heather J. Sharkey: "...Melanie Trexler considers the long-running Arab-American relationship that has connected Baptists in the United States and in what is now Lebanon from the late nineteenth century to the present. Readers interested in the history of Lebanon, Christian missions, Baptist peoples and traditions, or U.S.-Middle Eastern relations will appreciate this engaging, thoroughly researched, and finely analyzed account."

Uzi Rebhun, Jews and the American Religious Landscape (Columbia University Press)
Deborah Dash Moore: "Uzi Rebhun's elegant comparative study of Jews and the American Religious Landscape deftly situates American Jews in multiple, overlapping contexts that yield fascinating results. Whether he is examining demography, religiosity, politics, or education, Rebhun's multivariate analysis disrupts accepted wisdom and points to the enormous value of comparison when trying to understand American Jews."

Julie L. Holcomb, Moral Commerce: Quakers and the Transatlantic Boycott of the Slave Labor Economy (Cornell University Press)
W. Caleb McDaniel: "For too long, the full story of the Free Produce Movement has been overshadowed by disputes among abolitionists about whether abstention from slave-grown products was possible. In this well-researched and eloquent book, Julie L. Holcomb brings the transatlantic history of Free Produce out of the shadows and shows that the movement's main obstacle was not opposition from other abolitionists, but the global reach of slavery itself. Long before current scholarly debates about the relationship between slavery and capitalism, abolitionists understood that the global economy was deeply stained at every level by the plunder of fellow human beings."

Daniel Moran, Creating Flannery O'Connor: Her Critics, Her Publishers, Her Readers (University of Georgia Press)
From the publisher: "Flannery O’Connor may now be acknowledged as the 'Great American Catholic Author,' but this was not always the case. With Creating Flannery O’Connor, Daniel Moran explains how O’Connor attained that status, and how she felt about it, by examining the development of her literary reputation from the perspectives of critics, publishers, agents, adapters for other media, and contemporary readers."

Harvey Cox, The Market as God (Harvard University Press)
Arvind Sharma: “Max Weber famously looked at religion through the prism of economics. Harvey Cox reverses the gaze and looks at economics through the prism of theology. In this very timely book, he formulates and then examines the equation Market = God in ways that are as original as they are brilliant.”

Matthew Pehl, The Making of Working-Class Religion (University of Illinois Press)
Robert Orsi: "A signal contribution to the resurgence of historical interest in the religious worlds of working class men and women. Pehl shows how 'work' had religious significance in Detroit's working class neighborhoods and in doing so he helps restore the realities and exigencies of daily toil to American religious history. The Making of Working Class Religion is also an exciting religious history of modern Detroit. With its huge cast of historical actors--Detroit's white and black, Protestant and Catholic workers, Elijah Muhammad, Reinhold Niebuhr, Father Charles Coughlin, and many others--the book goes a long way towards establishing the city's importance as a place of religious innovation and public engagement. This is dynamic and powerful history."

Marcia Walker-McWilliams, Reverend Addie Wyatt: Faith and the Fight for Labor, Gender, and Racial Equality (University of Illinois Press)
Davarian L. Baldwin: "Late in life, Addie Wyatt told Walker-McWilliams to 'tell the story,' and this powerful social movement biography certainly delivers. Long before people were thinking through the notion of 'intersectionality,' Reverend Addie Wyatt lived a firm commitment to her Christian faith, labor activism, women's equality, and racial justice as all essential for her vision of freedom. Here, we are presented with a complex piece of the past, a life of liberation that can instigate and inspire us to forge a better future."

William Kolbrener, The Last Rabbi: Joseph Soloveitchik and Talmudic Tradition (Indiana University Press)
From the publisher: "Joseph Soloveitchik (1903–1993) was a major American Orthodox rabbi, Talmudist, philosopher, and theologian. In this new work, William Kolbrener takes on the Soloveitchik’s controversial legacy and shows how he was torn between the traditionalist demands of his European ancestors and the trajectory of his own radical and often pluralist philosophy. A portrait of this self-professed 'lonely man of faith' reveals him to be a reluctant modern who responds to the catastrophic trauma of personal and historical loss by underwriting an idiosyncratic, highly conservative conception of law that is distinct from his Talmudic predecessors, and also paves the way for a return to tradition that hinges on the ethical embrace of multiplicity."

Daniel S. Malachuk, Two Cities: The Political Thought of American Transcendentalism (University Press of Kansas)
Bob Pepperman Taylor: “Daniel Malachuk has written a powerful book. Placing the Transcendentalists squarely within the Augustinian tradition, he provides a compelling reading of Fuller, Emerson and Thoreau, demonstrating not only their often-underappreciated originality but also their significant challenge to the main currents of American liberal democratic theory. All students of Transcendentalism, American political thought, and contemporary liberalism will gain from this deeply researched and philosophically provocative study.”

Emily Suzanne Clark, A Luminous Brotherhood: Afro-Creole Spiritualism in Nineteenth-Century New Orleans (University of North Carolina Press)
Edward Blum: "One of the finest works I have read on nineteenth-century U.S. religion. While focusing on the Cercle Harmonique, Emily Suzanne Clark illuminates many hidden gems regarding religion and society during these decades. She takes us from the séance floor to the locality of New Orleans, from the nation to the Atlantic world. Clark shows how these African Americans were webbed into local and national politics, international intellectual ferment, and revolutionary plots of the past and the present. I found myself understanding how they could think about the cosmos, the Enlightenment, and their street corner all at the same time. When considering new ways to write about religion, race, politics, and culture in the nineteenth century, this book is at the top on my list."

Thomas W. Simpson, American Universities and the Birth of Modern Mormonism, 1867–1940 (University of North Carolina Press)
J. Spencer Fluhman: "An elegant, original contribution and a must-read for anyone interested in American religion and the life of the mind. Thomas W. Simpson's scholarly heavy lifting--painstakingly tracing the Progressive Era Mormons who passed through American universities--forces a substantial reassessment of previous 'Americanization' theses. Simpson decenters polygamy (no mean feat) and places intellectual history and education at the heart of LDS navigation of both modernity and national identity."

Christopher Deacy, Christmas as Religion: The Relationship between Sacred and Secular (Oxford University Press)
From the publisher: "explores the premise that religion plays an elementary role in our understanding of the Christmas festival, but takes issue with much of the existing literature which is inclined to limit the contours and parameters of 'religion' to particular representations and manifestations of institutional forms of Christianity....this book makes the case for laying to rest the secularization thesis, with its simplistic assumption that religion in Western society is undergoing a period of escalating and irrevocable erosion, and to see instead that the secular may itself be a repository of the religious. Rather than see Christmas as comprising alternative or analogous forms of religious expression, or dependent on any causal relationship to the Christian tradition, Deacy maintains that it is religious per se, and, moreover, it is its very secularity that makes Christmas such a compelling, and even transcendent, religious holiday."

Dennis Barone, Beyond Memory: Italian Protestants in Italy and America (State University Press of New York)
From the publisher: "...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....Though the book focuses on the years of high immigration (1890–1920), it also looks at precursors to post-reunification Protestants as well as Protestants in Italy today, now that the nation has become a country of in-migration."

Matthew Garrett, Making Lamanites: Mormons, Native Americans, and the Indian Student Placement Program, 1947-2000 (University of Utah Press)
Donald L. Fixico: “Using historical themes of colonization, assimilation, and identity, Matthew Garrett presents an extraordinary revelation of indigenous resilience among 50,000 native students during the second half of the twentieth century. He argues convincingly for the survival of Indian identity as youth, becoming Lamanites, spent the formative years of their lives in the Indian Student Placement Program. This brilliant expose´ advances our understanding of Indian-white relations, and it is truly an award-winning book!”

Colin B. Chapell, Ye That Are Men Now Serve Him: Radical Holiness Theology and Gender in the South (University of Alabama Press)
Randall J. Stephens: "I can think of no one who has treated the gist of a new kind of manliness and a new perspective on women's roles in church and society as this project does. This is a fresh account, rich with detail, and offers a provocative argument."

Kenneth L. Woodward, Getting Religion: Faith, Culture, and Politics from the Age of Eisenhower to the Era of Obama (Convergent Books)
From the publisher: "Here the award-winning author blends memoir (especially of the postwar era) with copious reporting and shrewd historical analysis to tell the story of how American religion, culture and politics influenced each other in the second half of the 20th century. There are few people writing today who could tell this important story with such authority and insight. A scholar as well as one of the nation’s most respected journalists, Woodward served as Newsweek’s religion editor for nearly forty years, reporting from five continents and contributing over 700 articles, including nearly 100 cover stories, on a wide range of social issues, ideas and movements."

Kenneth A. Briggs, The Invisible Bestseller: Searching for the Bible in America (Eerdmans)
Diane Winston: "Briggs's penetrating study is a welcome addition to our understanding of how religion functions in everyday life. Deeply humane and beautifully written, The Invisible Bestseller introduces readers to the ways in which Americans do and don't understand the Bible and demonstrates why it remains foundational even when its teachings are hidden in plain sight."

Jonathan M. Yeager, Jonathan Edwards and Transatlantic Print Culture (Oxford University Press)
Catherine Brekus: "An admirably comprehensive study that sheds light on both Jonathan Edwards and the history of transatlantic publishing. Yeager's insightful book reveals Edwards's deep debts to the printers and booksellers who marketed his works."

Matthew Harper, The End of Days: African American Religion and Politics in the Age of Emancipation (University of North Carolina Press)
John Giggie: "...explores how profoundly religious belief influenced African American political thought from the end of the Civil War to the early years of Jim Crow. Harper carefully demonstrates how blacks found in Hebrew scripture a map of their future. Identifying themselves with the ancient Hebrews as God’s chosen people, they too would endure earthly trials, but their steadfast faith would eventually bring them to a Promised Land of racial justice and fairness. Centering the focus of African American eschatology on the specific terrain of North Carolina, Harper offers a vivid portrayal of how black southerners continued to find extraordinary hope in the decades after emancipation.”

John Fea, Was America Founded as a Christian Nation? Revised Edition (Westminster John Knox)
From the publisher: "John Fea offers a thoroughly researched, evenhanded primer on whether America was founded to be a Christian nation, as many evangelicals assert, or a secular state, as others contend. He approaches the title's question from a historical perspective, helping readers see past the emotional rhetoric of today to the recorded facts of our past. This updated edition reports on the many issues that have arisen in recent years concerning religion's place in American society including the Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage, contraception and the Affordable Care Act, and state-level restrictions on abortion, and demonstrates how they lead us to the question of whether the United States was or is a Christian nation."


Michelle M. Jacob, Indian Pilgrims: Indigenous Journeys of Activism and Healing with Saint Kateri Tekakwitha (University of Arizona Press)
Gayle Skawen:nio Morse: "...focuses on Saint Kateri as the heart of worldwide Indigenous efforts to heal communities from the destruction of colonization, to care for Mother Earth, and to emphasize the Indigenous feminist views, and it highlights the importance of Indigenous activism as a vehicle for healing. This book represents a new view, a pioneering cultural depiction of a Catholic saint as a crucial core of Indigenous strength and healing."

Todd LeVasseur, Pramod Parajuli, and Norman Wirzba, eds., Religion and Sustainable Agriculture: World Spiritual Traditions and Food Ethics (University Press of Kentucky)
From the publisher: "In this wide-ranging collection, eminent scholars, theologians, activists, and lay farmers illuminate how religious beliefs influence and are influenced by the values and practices of sustainable agriculture. Together, they analyze a multitude of agricultural practices for their contributions to healthy, ethical living and environmental justice. Throughout, the contributors address current critical issues, including global trade agreements, indigenous rights to land and seed, and the effects of postcolonialism on farming and industry. Covering indigenous, Buddhist, Hindu, Christian, Muslim, and Jewish perspectives, this groundbreaking volume makes a significant contribution to the study of ethics and agriculture."

Randall Balmer, Evangelicalism in America (Baylor University Press)
Leigh Eric Schmidt: "Eminently readable, Randall Balmer’s Evangelicalism in America offers a concise historical capsule of axial episodes in the nation’s religious and political history from the founding onward. Deeply drawn to the evangelical tradition in which he was raised, Balmer is also among its most discerning critics—a prophet who draws his direst warnings against today’s Religious Right from his learned familiarity with the country’s Protestant past. Seen from that long historical view—from Roger Williams to Martin Luther King Jr.—the rightwing mobilization of evangelicalism over the last forty-plus years is laden with ironies and paradoxes that Balmer fearlessly unpacks."

Amir Hussain, Muslims and the Making of America (Baylor University Press)
Jane McAuliffe: " accessible and engaging book that tells the story of Muslim contributions to American history and creativity. From early medieval intimations of an ‘unknown land’ across the Atlantic, through west African plantation slaves, to the contemporary accomplishments of athletes, musicians, and artists, Islam has been a force in the United States and Muslims have played a vital role in making America great."

Amanda J. Baugh, God and the Green Divide: Religious Environmentalism in Black and White (University of California Press)
Sarah M. Pike: "Amanda Baugh convincingly argues that scholars have ignored how theology and ethics on earth stewardship play out in people’s lives by delivering a sensitive and nuanced mapping of the 'moral topography of the city': the various ways in which dynamics of race, class, and religion are expressed on the urban streets of Chicago. Baugh’s work is a long overdue and welcome addition that challenges previous scholarship and seeks to shift the discussion to grassroots expressions of environmentalism in urban contexts."

Timothy B. Neary, Crossing Parish Boundaries: Race, Sports, and Catholic Youth in Chicago, 1914-1954 (University of Chicago Press)
John T. McGreevy: “Neary examines the understudied world of youth athletics, finding significant interracial cooperation by the mid-twentieth century. His well-researched study allows us to better understand the dynamics of—and limits to—such cooperation in a city marked by intense residential and racial segregation.”

D.G. Hart, Damning Words: The Life and Religious Times of H. L. Mencken (Eerdmans)
From the publisher: "In this biography D. G. Hart presents a provocative, iconoclastic perspective on Mencken's life. Even as Mencken vividly debunked American religious ideals, says Hart, it was Christianity that largely framed his ideas, career, and fame. Mencken's relationship to the Christian faith was at once antagonistic and symbiotic."

Cara Burnidge, A Peaceful Conquest: Woodrow Wilson, Religion, and the New World Order (University of Chicago Press)
Andrew Preston: “Burnidge’s analysis of American religion is first-rate. She does a highly effective job of contextualizing liberal Protestantism in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, especially in discussing the importance of social Christianity. Yet she does much more than this: she also recognizes young Wilson’s paradoxical affinities to traditionalism and modernism, and she deftly analyzes this paradox (and others) to locate the religious sources of Wilson’s emerging views of politics. Wilson himself was exceedingly complex and subtle, and Burnidge matches his complexity and subtlety with an admirable clarity of analysis. This is an excellent book.”

Andrea L. Turpin, A New Moral Vision Gender: Religion, and the Changing Purposes of American Higher Education, 1837–1917 (Cornell University Press)
Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz: "Andrea L. Turpin offers fresh and important perspectives on two intertwining features in U.S. higher education in the years 1837 to 1917—its opening to women and its shaping by American religious culture. With these threads in motion, the author adds the critical contribution that colleges and universities made during these eighty years to their male and female graduates' choices of occupations and commitments to social reform. A New Moral Vision is a major contribution to both the history of education in the United States and to American cultural and social history."

Ashon T. Crawley, Blackpentecostal Breath: The Aesthetics of Possibility (Fordham University Press)
From the publisher: "Examining the whooping, shouting, noise-making, and speaking in tongues of Black Pentecostalism--a multi-racial, multi-class, multi-national Christian sect with one strand of its modern genesis in 1906 Los Angeles--Blackpentecostal Breath reveals how these aesthetic practices allow for the emergence of alternative modes of social organization. As Crawley deftly reveals, these choreographic, sonic, and visual practices and the sensual experiences they create are not only important for imagining what Crawley identifies as "otherwise worlds of possibility," they also yield a general hermeneutics, a methodology for reading culture in an era when such expressions are increasingly under siege."

W. Glenn Jonas, Jr., A Cloud of Witnesses from the Heart of the City: First Presbyterian Church, Raleigh, 1816–2016 (Mercer University Press)
From the publisher: "The First Presbyterian Church of Raleigh, North Carolina has an important presence as a leading community of faith in North Carolina's capital city. This book examines the history of the church from its birth in 1816 to present. It is comprehensive and contextualized within the broader national, state, city, and denominational history over the last 200 years."

Jeffrey S. Gurock, The Jews of Harlem: The Rise, Decline, and Revival of a Jewish Community (NYU Press)
Beth S. Wenger: "Jeffrey Gurock offers an evocative account of the evolution of Jewish Harlem. This book is a 'must read' for anyone interested in race, religion, and culture in New York's ever-changing neighborhood."

Quentin Thomas Wells, Defender: The Life of Daniel H. Wells (Utah State University Press)
From the publisher: "...the first and only scholarly biography of Daniel H. Wells, one of the important yet historically neglected leaders among the nineteenth-century Mormons—leaders like Heber C. Kimball, George Q. Cannon, and Jedediah M. Grant. An adult convert to the Mormon faith during the Mormons’ Nauvoo period, Wells developed relationships with men at the highest levels of the church hierarchy, emigrated to Utah with the Mormon pioneers, and served in a series of influential posts in both church and state."

Rosemarie Bodenheimer, Edgar and Brigitte: A German Jewish Passage to America (University of Alabama Press)
Tobias Brinkmann: "...presents a multifaceted look back at the German origins of two Jewish families and their relatives, friends, and professional colleagues. Based on letters and diary entries, Rosemarie Bodenheimer retraces the early emigration of her mother’s and father’s families to the United States and describes how they adapted and put down roots in their new home country.”

Maya Barzilai, Golem: Modern Wars and Their Monsters (NYU Press)
Helene Wecker: "Fascinating and well argued, Golem examines the modern incarnations of the old Jewish myth, tracking its many meanings as it crosses between generations and cultures, from the muddy trenches of WWI to the killing fields of science fiction. An indispensable text for anyone looking to understand our ongoing fascination with the golem figure, in all its malleable forms."

Kimberly Jenkins Marshall, Upward, Not Sunwise: Resonant Rupture in Navajo Neo-Pentecostalism (University of Nebraska Press)
From the publisher: "...explores an influential and growing neo-Pentecostal movement among Native Americans characterized by evangelical Christian theology, charismatic 'spirit-filled' worship, and decentralized Native control. As in other global contexts, neo-Pentecostalism is spread by charismatic evangelists practicing faith healing at tent revivals.In North America, this movement has become especially popular among the Diné (Navajo), where the Oodlání (“Believers”) movement now numbers nearly sixty thousand members. Participants in this movement value their Navajo cultural identity yet maintain a profound religious conviction that the beliefs of their ancestors are tools of the devil. Kimberly Jenkins Marshall has been researching the Oodlání movement since 2006 and presents the first book-length study of Navajo neo-Pentecostalism."

David P. Cline, From Reconciliation to Revolution: The Student Interracial Ministry, Liberal Christianity, and the Civil Rights Movement (University of North Carolina Press)
From the publisher: "Conceived at the same conference that produced the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the Student Interracial Ministry (SIM) was a national organization devoted to dismantling Jim Crow while simultaneously advancing American Protestant mainline churches’ approach to race. In this book, David P. Cline details how, between the founding of SIM in 1960 and its dissolution at the end of the decade, the seminary students who created and ran the organization influenced hundreds of thousands of community members through its various racial reconciliation and economic justice projects."

Michael Ruse, Darwinism as Religion: What Literature Tells Us about Evolution (Oxford University Press)
From the publisher: "Drawing on a deep understanding of both the science and the history, Michael Ruse surveys the naturalistic thinking about the origins of organisms, including the origins of humankind, as portrayed in novels and in poetry, taking the story from its beginnings in the Age of Enlightenment in the 18th century right up to the present. He shows that, contrary to the opinion of many historians of the era, there was indeed a revolution in thought and that the English naturalist Charles Darwin was at the heart of it. However, contrary also to what many think, this revolution was not primarily scientific as such, but more religious or metaphysical, as people were taken from the secure world of the Christian faith into a darker, more hostile world of evolutionism."

Gerry Bowler, Christmas in the Crosshairs: Two Thousand Years of Denouncing and Defending the World's Most Celebrated Holiday (Oxford University Press)
John Fea: "St. Augustine. John Chrysostom. The Puritans. Washington Irving. African Americans. Fidel Castro. Anti-consumer advocates. Westboro Baptist Church. Fox News. They have all, at one time or another, been caught in the 'crosshairs' of debates over the celebration of Christmas. Gerry Bowler's latest book teaches us that the so-called 'wars on Christmas' have a long and fascinating history."

Caroline Winterer, American Enlightenments: Pursuing Happiness in the Age of Reason (Yale University Press)
Daniel T. Rodgers: “Caroline Winterer’s luminous study of the correspondence chains that bound figures like Franklin and Jefferson to their counterparts in Europe shows us an Enlightenment far richer than any we have seen before. She shows us not an abstract age of Reason but men and women reasoning intensely and creatively with the knottiest problems of science, politics, religion, and philosophy of their times.”

Leo Braudy, Haunted: On Ghosts, Witches, Vampires, Zombies, and Other Monsters of the Natural and Supernatural Worlds (Yale University Press)
From the publisher: "...explores how fear has been shaped into images of monsters and monstrosity. From the Protestant Reformation to contemporary horror films and fiction, he explores four major types: the monster from nature (King Kong), the created monster (Frankenstein), the monster from within (Mr. Hyde), and the monster from the past (Dracula). Drawing upon deep historical and literary research, Braudy discusses the lasting presence of fearful imaginings in an age of scientific progress, viewing the detective genre as a rational riposte to the irrational world of the monstrous."

Andrew Crome, ed., Prophecy and Eschatology in the Transatlantic World, 1550-1800 (Palgrave Macmillan)
From the publisher: "Prophecy and millennial speculation are often seen as having played a key role in early European engagements with the new world, from Columbus’s use of the predictions of Joachim of Fiore, to the puritan ‘Errand into the Wilderness’. Yet examinations of such ideas have sometimes presumed an overly simplistic application of these beliefs in the lives of those who held to them. This book explores the way in which prophecy and eschatological ideas influenced poets, politicians, theologians, and ordinary people in the Atlantic world from the sixteenth to the late eighteenth century."

Mark S. Ferrara, Sacred Bliss: A Spiritual History of Cannabis (Rowman & Littlefield)
From the publisher: "One of the most important relationships that human beings have with plants is changing our consciousness—consider the plants that give us coffee, tea, chocolate, and nicotine. Sacred Bliss challenges traditional attitudes about cannabis by tracing its essential role in the spiritual and curative traditions in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe, and the Americas from prehistory to the present day. In highlighting the continued use of cannabis around the globe, Sacred Bliss offers compelling evidence of cannabis as an entheogen used for thousands of years to evoke peak-experiences, or moments of expanded perception or spiritual awareness."

Josef Sorett, Spirit in the Dark: A Religious History of Racial Aesthetics (Oxford University Press)
Tracy Fessenden: "Even at their most assertively secular, black expressive arts over the last century have riffed on Afro-Protestant church structures that they in turn attenuate, revise, and sustain. In this venturesome book Josef Sorett traces the 'celebratory ambivalence' that animates and infuses African-American cultural production from the Great Migration to the present. Spirit in the Dark is the best single-volume work I know of on the arts and fictions of Afro-Protestant modernity."

Angela D. Sims, Lynched: The Power of Memory in a Culture of Terror (Baylor University Press)
From the publisher: "...chronicles the history and aftermath of lynching in America. By rooting her work in oral histories, Angela D. Sims gives voice to the memories of African American elders who remember lynching not only as individual acts but as a culture of violence, domination, and fear. Lynched preserves memory even while it provides an analysis of the meaning of those memories. Sims examines the relationship between lynching and the interconnected realities of race, gender, class, and other social fragmentations that ultimately shape a person’s—and a community’s—religious self-understanding. Through this understanding, she explores how the narrators reconcile their personal and communal memory of lynching with their lived Christian experience."

William Yoo, American Missionaries, Korean Protestants, and the Changing Shape of World Christianity, 1884-1965 (Routledge)
From the publisher: "This book examines the partnerships and power struggles between American missionaries and Korean Protestant leaders in both nations from the late 19th century to the aftermath of the Korean War. Yoo analyzes American and Korean sources, including a plethora of unpublished archival materials, to uncover the complicated histories of cooperation and contestation behind the evolving relationships between Americans and Koreans at the same time the majority of the world Christian population shifted from the Global North to the Global South."


Kenneth C. Barnes, Anti-Catholicism in Arkansas: How Politicians, the Press, the Klan, and Religious Leaders Imagined an Enemy, 1910–1960 (University of Arkansas Press)
From the publisher: "...illustrates how the dominant Protestant majority portrayed Catholics as a feared or despised 'other,' a phenomenon that was particularly strong in Arkansas."

Kyle Roberts, Evangelical Gotham: Religion and the Making of New York City, 1783-1860 (University of Chicago Press)
Mark Noll: “With deep and wide-ranging research, Roberts has provided a path-breaking interpretation of religious dynamics in the development of New York City as the nation’s leading urban center. The book is simply jammed with insights—especially on the city’s expanding but also conflicted evangelical churches (Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist), but also on race, religious and ethnic minorities, missionary initiatives, market-place instincts, gender, revival, philanthropic voluntarism, and more. Evangelical Gotham is a splendid book.”

Paul Harvey, Christianity and Race in the American South: A History (University of Chicago Press)
Alison Collis Greene: “Christianity and Race in the American South will be the standard text for scholars and students of southern religion for many years to come. But Harvey’s textured, tightly woven narrative history is also much more. It is an astonishingly expansive yet wonderfully concise page-turner, a synthesis full of original research, and a study in power and paradox. This urgent, important book should be read in every high school and college in the region—and outside it too.”

William J. Baker, Of Gods and Games: Religious Faith and Modern Sports (University of Georgia Press)
From the publisher: "Few would deny our national devotion to sports; however, many would gloss over it as all of a piece. To do that, as William J. Baker shows us, is to miss the fascinating variety of experiences at the intersection of sports and religion—and the ramifications of such on a national citizenry defined, as Baker writes, 'by the team they cheer on Saturday and the church they attend on Sunday.' With nods to modern and ancient history, Baker looks at the ever-changing relationship between faith and sports through vignettes about devout athletes, coaches, and journalists."

Warren Felt Evans, The Spiritual Journals of Warren Felt Evans From Methodism to Mind Cure, ed. Catherine L. Albanese, (Indiana University Press)
From the publisher: "Warren Felt Evans (1817–1889) converted to Methodism while at Dartmouth College, became a minister, and spent his Methodist years as a spiritual seeker. His two extant journals, edited and annotated by Catherine L. Albanese, appear in print for the first time and reveal the inner journey of a leading American spiritual pilgrim at a critical period in his religious search."

William F. Quigley Jr., Pure Heart: The Faith of a Father and Son in the War for a More Perfect Union (Kent State University Press)
From the publisher: "Clearly and engagingly written, Pure Heart is unique in its narrative synthesis of home front political divisions and frontline infantry experiences. The emotional heart of the story lies in Reverend Dorr’s relationship with his soldier son, poignantly revealed in a recently discovered collection of his son’s wartime letters."

Andrew McNeill Canady, Willis Duke Weatherford: Race, Religion, and Reform in the American South (University Press of Kentucky)
From the publisher: "In this comprehensive biography, Andrew McNeill Canady offers a reassessment of the influential educator’s life and work. Canady surveys Weatherford’s work with institutions such as the YMCA, Berea College, and Fisk University and illuminates his many efforts to foster dialogue among southerners of all races about religion, race relations, and Appalachia. He also examines Weatherford’s reluctance to challenge Jim Crow laws and the capitalist economy that contributed to the poverty of African Americans and the people of Appalachia, revealing the limitations that southern reformers faced and the often-difficult compromises they were forced to make."

Steven Fink, Dribbling for Dawah: Sports among Muslim Americans (Mercer University Press)
From the publisher: "Amidst a proliferation of scholarly literature about Islam in the United States, very little attention has been given to sports among Muslim Americans. While books about professional Muslim athletes can be found, this is the first book to investigate Muslim American sports at the local level, looking at Muslim basketball leagues, sports programs at mosques and Islamic schools, and sports events hosted by Muslim organizations."

Elizabeth Kryder-Reid, California Mission Landscapes: Race, Memory, and the Politics of Heritage (University of Minnesota Press)
From the publisher: " unprecedented and fascinating history of California mission landscapes from colonial outposts to their reinvention as heritage sites through the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Illuminating the deeply political nature of this transformation, Elizabeth Kryder-Reid argues that the designed landscapes have long recast the missions from sites of colonial oppression to aestheticized and nostalgia-drenched monasteries. She investigates how such landscapes have been appropriated in social and political power struggles, particularly in the perpetuation of social inequalities across boundaries of gender, race, class, ethnicity, and religion."

Carolyn Moxley Rouse , John L. Jackson, Jr. and Marla F. Frederick, Televised Redemption: Black Religious Media and Racial Empowerment (NYU Press)
From the publisher: "The institutional structures of white supremacy—slavery, Jim Crow laws, convict leasing, and mass incarceration—require a commonsense belief that black people lack the moral and intellectual capacities of white people. It is through this lens of belief that racial exclusions have been justified and reproduced in the United States. Televised Redemption argues that African American religious media has long played a key role in humanizing the race by unabashedly claiming that blacks are endowed by God with the same gifts of goodness and reason as whites—if not more, thereby legitimizing black Americans’ rights to citizenship."

Walter Earl Fluker, The Ground Has Shifted: The Future of the Black Church in Post-Racial America (NYU Press)
Barbara A. Holmes: "...addresses questions being posed by a historical Black Church caught between its piety, the politics of respectability, and a cataclysmic shifting of the taken-for-granted realities of a besieged/blessed people. I will buy and teach this book as often as I can. What an amazing contribution to the literature."

Naomi Prawer Kadar, Raising Secular Jews: Yiddish Schools and Their Periodicals for American Children, 1917–1950 (Brandeis University Press)
Jeffrey Shandler: "This assiduously researched study by Naomi Prawer Kadar, one of the most admired Yiddish teachers of her generation, reveals the literary and cultural richness of American Yiddishist organizations’ children’s periodicals. They distill visions of a new secular Jewish culture to its essence for their young readers. In addition, these remarkable publications demonstrate how Yiddish schools grappled with daunting subjects—even the Holocaust—and shared these challenges with the next generation of American Jews."

Anne M. Blankenship, Christianity, Social Justice, and the Japanese American Incarceration during World War II (University of North Carolina Press)
Greg Robinson: "The first full exploration of the role of Christianity among Japanese Americans incarcerated during World War II, this powerful book is a marvelous introduction to an unjustly neglected topic. Taking the study of Japanese Americans in a new direction, Anne Blankenship deepens our understanding not only of religious practice in the camps but of government regulation of freedom of religion. A vital addition to literature in religious studies, history, and ethnic studies."

Nadia Marzouki, Duncan McDonnell, and Olivier Roy, eds., Saving the People: How Populists Hijack Religion (Oxford University Press)
From the publishers: "Western democracies are experiencing a new wave of right-wing populism that seeks to mobilize religion for its own ends. With chapters on the United States, Britain, France, Italy, Austria, the Netherlands, Poland and Israel, Saving the People asks how populist movements have used religion for their own ends and how church leaders react to them."

Thomas Albert Howard, Remembering the Reformation: An Inquiry into the Meanings of Protestantism (Oxford University Press)
Philip Jenkins: "...a thoughtful and rewarding book. At one level, it tells the story of how successive generations have recast that pivotal event according to the changing needs and obsessions of each new era. Through the process, though, we also learn much about the changing role of religion in Western society, and (centrally) about the nature of Protestantism itself. As we commemorate the 500th anniversary of Luther's Reformation, it will be very useful to have this elegant and well-written historical guide to hand."

Ann Taves, Revelatory Events: Three Case Studies of the Emergence of New Spiritual Paths (Princeton University Press)
T. M. Luhrmann: "Ann Taves uses her skills as a historian to demonstrate that it is not spiritual experience itself that makes revelatory events, and her skills in cognitive science to unpack how events become revelatory. A deeply fascinating book, Revelatory Events helps us rethink spirituality itself."

Rosemary R. Corbett, Making Moderate Islam: Sufism, Service, and the “Ground Zero Mosque” Controversy (Stanford University Press)
Sohail Daulatzai: " important contribution to the urgent questions around Muslims and citizenship. The central characters and debates here are striking, and even dramatic—including a post-9/11 climate, election-year grandstanding, right-wing punditry, think-tank support, and imperial logics of containment—and Corbett does a splendid job of identifying and invoking many of the players, tropes, and consequences of the story of the 'Ground Zero Mosque.'"

Walter A. McDougall, The Tragedy of U.S. Foreign Policy: How America’s Civil Religion Betrayed the National Interest (Yale University Press)
Andrew Preston: "A lot has been written about U.S. foreign policy since 9/11, but nothing compares to Walter McDougall's wonderfully original new book. Deftly blending diplomatic, religious, intellectual, and political history, and written with stylish wit and penetrating insight, The Tragedy of U.S. Foreign Policy reveals the historical origins of America's current global predicament. Required reading for anyone interested in American politics, foreign policy, and the future of world order."

Christopher Lane, Surge of Piety: Norman Vincent Peale and the Remaking of American Religious Life (Yale University Press)
Matthew Avery Sutton: “Carefully examining everything from Freudian psychology to traditional revivalism, Lane masterfully shows why we cannot make sense of the tremendous mid-century upsurge in American religiosity without understanding the inimitable Peale.”

Paul Harvey, Bounds of Their Habitation: Race and Religion in American History (Rowman & Littlefield)
From the publisher: "There is an 'American Way' to religion and race unlike anyplace else in the world, and the rise of religious pluralism in contemporary American (together with the continuing legacy of the racism of the past and misapprehensions in the present) render its understanding crucial. Paul Harvey’s Bounds of Their Habitation, the latest installment in the acclaimed American Ways Series, concisely surveys the evolution and interconnection of race and religion throughout American history. Harvey pierces through the often overly academic treatments afforded these essential topics to accessibly delineate a narrative between our nation’s revolutionary racial and religious beginnings, and our increasingly contested and pluralistic future."

Michael Pasquier, Religion in America: The Basics (Routledge)
From the publisher: "...a concise introduction to the historical development of religions in the United States. It is an invitation to explore the complex tapestry of religious beliefs and practices that shaped life in North America from the colonial encounters of the fifteenth century to the culture wars of the twenty-first century."

Maria C. Morrow, Sin in the Sixties: Catholics and Confession 1955-1975 (Catholic University Press of America)
From the publisher: "For some, penitential practices are the buried treasure of the church that await rediscovery. For others, they were experiences that had to be endured and that are best forgotten. Morrow, in a thoughtful, even-handed way, traces how the perception and emphasis changed during this critical and controversial time in the church's history."


Mary Campbell, Charles Ellis Johnson and the Erotic Mormon Image (University of Chicago Press)
Sally M. Promey: "...brilliant in its persuasive interpretation of the photography of Johnson as an act of high-stakes cartographic reinsertion of Latter-day Saints into the fabric of American society, from which Joseph Smith’s theology of polygamy had earlier extracted them. Campbell’s extremely compelling analysis will have tremendous appeal to scholars in history of art, religious studies, American studies, and history, as well as to a larger reading public. Beautifully written and engaging, this book has my strongest endorsement.”

James Hitchcock, Abortion, Religious Freedom, and Catholic Politics (Transaction)
From the publisher: "...a study of opposing American Catholic approaches to abortion, especially in terms of laws and government policies. After the ruling of Roe vs. Wade, many pro-life advocates no longer felt their sentiments and moral code aligned with Democrats. For the first time, Catholics, as an entire group, became involved in U.S. politics. Abortion became one of the principal points of division in American Catholicism: a widening split between liberal Catholic Democrats who sought to minimize the issue and other Catholics, many of them politically liberal, whose pro-life commitments caused them to support Republicans."

Nelson Tebbe, Religious Freedom in an Egalitarian Age (Harvard University Press)
From the publisher: "Tensions between religious freedom and equality law are newly strained in America. As lawmakers work to protect LGBT citizens and women seeking reproductive freedom, religious traditionalists assert their right to dissent from what they see as a new liberal orthodoxy. Some religious advocates are going further and expressing skepticism that egalitarianism can be defended with reasons at all. Legal experts have not offered a satisfying response—until now. Nelson Tebbe argues that these disputes, which are admittedly complex, nevertheless can be resolved without irrationality or arbitrariness. In Religious Freedom in an Egalitarian Age, he advances a method called social coherence, based on the way that people reason through moral problems in everyday life."

Joseph D. Witt, Religion and Resistance in Appalachia: Faith and the Fight against Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining (University Press of Kentucky)
From the publisher: "...examines how religious and environmental ethics foster resistance to mountaintop removal coal mining. Drawing on extensive interviews with activists, teachers, preachers, and community leaders, Witt’s research offers a fresh analysis of an important and dynamic topic. His study reflects a diversity of denominational perspectives, exploring Catholic and mainline Protestant views of social and environmental justice, evangelical Christian readings of biblical ethics, and Native and nontraditional spiritual traditions. By placing Appalachian resistance to mountaintop removal in a comparative international context, Witt’s work also provides new outlooks on the future of the region and its inhabitants."

Mary Ellen Doyle, SCN, Catherine Spalding, SCN: A Life in Letters (University Press of Kentucky)
Judith Metz, SC: "These letters, in combination with Doyle’s biography Pioneer Spirit, allow the most comprehensive view of Spalding’s life possible at this time. This book is obviously the product of meticulous scholarship."

Su'ad Abdul Khabeer, Muslim Cool: Race, Religion, and Hip Hop in the United States (NYU Press)
Junaid Rana: "Offers an account of how Muslims in Chicago feel, think, and act. Fashionistas, hip-hop heads, and activists will recognize this scholarly work as chronicling the edginess of a possible future. Imagine Black Power meets twenty-first century faith-based social justice and cultural organizing. A must read for all those who didn’t know, and even those who do!"

Daniel L. Dreisbach, Reading the Bible with the Founding Fathers (Oxford University Press)
From the publisher: "Shedding new light on some of the most familiar rhetoric of the founding era, Daniel Dreisbach analyzes the founders' diverse use of scripture, ranging from the literary to the theological. He shows that they looked to the Bible for insights on human nature, civic virtue, political authority, and the rights and duties of citizens, as well as for political and legal models to emulate....Reading the Bible with the Founding Fathers broaches the perennial question of whether the America founding was, to some extent, informed by religious - specifically Christian - ideas."

P. Allen Krause, To Stand Aside or Stand Alone: Southern Reform Rabbis and the Civil Rights Movement, eds., Mark K. Bauman and Stephen Krause (University of Alabama Press)
Jonathan D. Sarna: "In 1966, Rabbi Allen Krause conducted frank interviews with Southern rabbis concerning Jews and the American civil rights movement. Now, fifty years later, transcripts of these precious interviews have finally been unsealed. The results—some of them explosive, some disturbing, and all of them illuminating—form the core of this book. It makes a unique contribution."


Kerry Pimblott, Faith in Black Power Religion, Race, and Resistance in Cairo, Illinois (University Press of Kentucky)
From the publisher: "In 1969, nineteen-year-old Robert Hunt was found dead in the Cairo, Illinois, police station. The white authorities ruled the death a suicide, but many members of the African American community believed that Hunt had been murdered—a sentiment that sparked rebellions and protests across the city. Cairo suddenly emerged as an important battleground for black survival in America and became a focus for many civil rights groups, including the NAACP. The United Front, a black power organization founded and led by Reverend Charles Koen, also mobilized—thanks in large part to the support of local Christian congregations. In this vital reassessment of the impact of religion on the black power movement, Kerry Pimblott presents a nuanced discussion of the ways in which black churches supported and shaped the United Front. She deftly challenges conventional narratives of the de-Christianization of the movement, revealing that Cairoites embraced both old-time religion and revolutionary thought."

Melissa Daggett, Spiritualism in Nineteenth-Century New Orleans: The Life and Times of Henry Louis Rey (University Press of Mississippi)
From the publisher: "...focuses on the turbulent years between the late antebellum period and the end of Reconstruction. Translating and interpreting numerous primary sources and one of the only surviving registers of seance proceedings, Daggett has opened a window into a fascinating life as well as a period of tumult and change. She provides unparalleled insights into the history of the Creoles of color and renders a better understanding of New Orleans's complex history."

Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, A House Full of Females: Plural Marriage and Women's Rights in Early Mormonism, 1835-1870 (Knopf)
From the publisher: "A stunning and sure-to-be controversial book that pieces together, through more than two dozen nineteenth-century diaries, letters, albums, minute-books, and quilts left by first-generation Latter-day Saints, or Mormons, the never-before-told story of the earliest days of the women of Mormon 'plural marriage,' whose right to vote in the state of Utah was given to them by a Mormon-dominated legislature as an outgrowth of polygamy in 1870, fifty years ahead of the vote nationally ratified by Congress, and who became political actors in spite of, or because of, their marital arrangements. Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, writing of this small group of Mormon women who’ve previously been seen as mere names and dates, has brilliantly reconstructed these textured, complex lives to give us a fulsome portrait of who these women were and of their 'sex radicalism'–the idea that a woman should choose when and with whom to bear children."


Unknown said…
Thank you so much for including my forthcoming book, Spiritualism in Nineteenth-Century New Orleans: The Life and Times of Henry Louis Rey, in your list of new books. I'm excited about the January 2017 launching after years of research, writing, and revising. The University Press of Mississippi has focused their publicity on Henry Louis Rey and his francophone seance circle, but there is a plethora of new information about the advent of Modern American Spiritualism in New Orleans.

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