New Books in American Religious History: 2017 Year in Preview, Part One (January-April)

Paul Putz

It's time for part one of the 2017 book preview list! This one will cover books published from January through April.

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)


Mary Beth Swetnam Mathews, Doctrine and Race: African American Evangelicals and Fundamentalism between the Wars (University of Alabama Press)
Clarence E. Hardy III: “Doctrine and Race—which considers the evolution of black evangelicals during the interwar period through their struggle with the modernist controversies and white fundamentalism’s rise—is an extremely welcome contribution to the study of black religious history.”

David J. Endres, ed., Remapping the History of Catholicism in the United States: Essays from the U.S. Catholic Historian (Catholic University of America Press)
From the publisher: "For more than thirty years, the U.S. Catholic Historian has mapped the diverse terrain of American Catholicism. This collection of recent essays tells the story of Catholics previously underappreciated by historians: women, African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, and those on the frontier and borderlands."

Kerry Pimblott, Faith in Black Power: Religion, Race, and Resistance in Cairo, Illinois (University Press of Kentucky)
Paul Harvey: "By attending so carefully to the social history of Cairo, the author forces a reconsideration of older arguments about the relationship of religion, civil rights, and black power, that have grown stale and usually depend on the statements of national figures such as King, Stokely Carmichael, and so forth. What we get here is an intensive on-the-ground examination of how religion and the rhetoric and practice of black power actually operated in a local community that had a very particular history, and one that did not look like the Deep South familiar from the civil rights movement."

Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, A House Full of Females: Plural Marriage and Women's Rights in Early Mormonism, 1835-1870 (Knopf)
Janet Polasky: “The reader who opens A House full of Females is truly privileged to have Laurel Thatcher Ulrich as their guide into the circles of strong women who defended plural marriage before Utah voted to give the vote to women. Ulrich takes us inside early Mormon communities, house by house, arriving with her well-honed archival skills of reading between the lines of diaries preserved in bags stitched of drapery fabric and piecing together the scraps of correspondence left behind to interpret a past that is especially meaningful to her, carved as it was out of the West by her own forebears. A truly extraordinary read.”

Randall Fuller, The Book That Changed America: How Darwin's Theory of Evolution Ignited a Nation (Viking)
From the publisher: "Creating a rich tableau of nineteenth-century American intellectual culture, as well as providing a fascinating biography of perhaps the single most important idea of that time, The Book That Changed America is also an account of issues and concerns still with us today, including racism and the enduring conflict between science and religion."

Cynthia M. Baker, Jew (Rutgers University Press)
From the publisher: "...this book offers a wide-ranging exploration of the key word Jew—a term that lies not only at the heart of Jewish experience, but indeed at the core of Western civilization. Examining scholarly debates about the origins and early meanings of Jew, Cynthia M. Baker interrogates categories like “ethnicity,” “race,” and "religion" that inevitably feature in attempts to define the word. Tracing the term’s evolution, she also illuminates its many contradictions, revealing how Jew has served as a marker of materialism and intellectualism, socialism and capitalism, worldly cosmopolitanism and clannish parochialism, chosen status, and accursed stigma."

Spencer W. McBride, Pulpit and Nation: Clergymen and the Politics of Revolutionary America (University of Virginia Press)
Sarah Barringer Gordon: "Pulpit and Nation's examination of the mutual and often manipulative exchanges between elite clergy and politicians in the founding era illuminates how deeply questions of church and state animated American political culture then—and bedevil us still."

Gideon Mailer, John Witherspoon's American Revolution (University of North Carolina Press)
Kate Carté Engel: “In this fresh biography of John Witherspoon, Mailer explores the rich philosophical origins of the Revolutionary War, American education, and the United States’s distinctive civil religion. Mailer skillfully integrates intellectual and religious narratives to demonstrate how evangelicalism, presbyterianism, and Scottish history formed the new American Republic. This work transforms our understanding of the only minister to sign the Declaration of Independence and his most influential student, James Madison.”

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."

Judith Weisenfeld, New World A-Coming: Black Religion and Racial Identity during the Great Migration  (NYU Press)
Anthea Butler: “A magnificent, thoughtfully researched work which breaks new theoretical ground on race, religion and the great migration. These compelling, exquisitely researched stories of the lives of devoted participants in the Moorish Science Temple, Ethiopian Hebrews, Father Divine and the NOI reconfigure the cult/ sect status that has historically labeled these groups. Weisenfeld's book redefines the contours of African American Religious history, American religion, and race in American history, and is a must read for the casual reader and established scholar alike."

Adam Jortner, Blood from the Sky: Miracles and Politics in the Early American Republic (University of Virginia Press)
Donna Thorland: "Outstanding. Blood from the Sky, Adam Jortner’s new book on miracles in the early republic, is a rare event itself: an important study about a neglected topic that remains compulsively readable from beginning to end. Jortner marshals considerable evidence that the Age of Reason was not as reasonable as we’d like to believe. Required reading for anyone who wants to understand Jeffersonian America—or our republic today."


Mark Raider, ed., The Essential Hayim Greenberg: Essays and Addresses on Jewish Culture, Socialism, and Zionism (University of Alabama Press)
Mitchell Cohen: "Hayim Greenberg was one of the great American Jewish public intellectuals. A man of rich moral intelligence, he was a Labor Zionist thinker of the first order who engaged his times as an excellent essayist and as the inventive editor of The Jewish Frontier Monthly. He was an adamant foe of right-wing swagger and far-left folly, seeking always to balance universalism and particularism. The essays in this anthology are an invaluable introduction for a new generation."

Andrew E. Barnes, Global Christianity and the Black Atlantic: Tuskegee, Colonialism, and the Shaping of African Industrial Education (Baylor University Press)
Richard H. Elphick: "Andrew Barnes brings to life an important but largely forgotten world: the ‘Christian black Atlantic’ of the early twentieth century. Carefully interweaving African American history with the histories of Western and Southern Africa, he reveals the complex strategies by which African Christians addressed colonialism and white racism, inspired by Booker T. Washington’s Tuskegee. An authoritative, illuminating, and absorbing book."

Joesph R. Wiebe, The Place of Imagination: Wendell Berry and the Poetics of Community, Affection, and Identity (Baylor University Press) 
Willis Jenkins: "This superbly researched book not only depicts the moral landscape of Wendell Berry’s fiction. It also interprets why that world bears such wide cultural significance. In sharp conversation with critics and admirers of Berry, Wiebe explains how the sort of moral imagination cultivated by Berry matters for everyone thinking about community, land, and identity."

Sylvester A. Johnson and Steven Weitzman, eds., The FBI and Religion: Faith and National Security before and after 9/11 (University of California Press)
Kathryn Lofton: "A devastating portrait of the FBI as a regulatory agent in the history of religions. The authors prove that the FBI does not just surveil and capture criminals. It defines, classifies, and punishes those who organize collectively and speak prophetically in modern America."

Daromir Rudnyckyj and Filippo Osella, eds., Religion and the Morality of the Market (Cambridge University Press) 
From the publisher: "Religion and the Morality of the Market shows how neoliberal market practices engender new forms of religiosity, and how religiosity shapes economic actions. It reveals how religious movements and organizations have reacted to the increasing prominence of market reason in unpredictable, and sometimes counterintuitive, ways."

Nelson Tebbe, Religious Freedom in an Egalitarian Age (Harvard University Press)
Katherine Franke: "With great rigor, intelligence, and a steady hand, Nelson Tebbe’s Religious Freedom in an Egalitarian Age charts a thoughtful course out of the polarized debates surrounding religious liberty and LGBT/women’s equality. To great effect, the book deploys a notion of ‘social coherence’ to guide legal mediation of conflicts between faith and reason, divine and earthly values, private and public power, and complex and conflicting moral visions of the good."

Drew Lopenzina, Through an Indian's Looking-Glass: A Cultural Biography of William Apess, Pequot (University of Massachusetts Press)
From the publisher: "The life of William Apess (1798–1839), a Pequot Indian, Methodist preacher, and widely celebrated writer, provides a lens through which to comprehend the complex dynamics of indigenous survival and resistance in the era of America's early nationhood. Apess's life intersects with multiple aspects of indigenous identity and existence in this period, including indentured servitude, slavery, service in the armed forces, syncretic engagements with Christian spirituality, and Native struggles for political and cultural autonomy. Even more, Apess offers a powerful and provocative voice for the persistence of Native presence in a time and place that was long supposed to have settled its "Indian question" in favor of extinction. Through meticulous archival research, close readings of Apess's key works, and informed and imaginative speculation about his largely enigmatic life, Drew Lopenzina provides a vivid portrait of this singular Native American figure."

Brent M. Rogers, Unpopular Sovereignty: Mormons and the Federal Management of Early Utah Territory (University of Nebraska Press)
W. Paul Reeve: “Brent Rogers skillfully places the Utah experience at the fulcrum of America’s growing sectional divide in the 1850s and offers important new insights into the deterioration of the Union. This book will force historians of the West to consider Utah Territory alongside Kansas Territory as a hotbed of national debate over popular sovereignty. Beyond that, it should prompt a recalibration of the national narrative to reflect the ways in which religion helped to define what it meant to be an American in the decade leading into the Civil War, sometimes just as much as race.”

Martin L. Deppe, Operation Breadbasket: An Untold Story of Civil Rights in Chicago, 1966–1971 (University of Georgia Press)
From the publisher: "This is the first full history of Operation Breadbasket, the interfaith economic justice program that transformed into Jesse Jackson’s Operation PUSH (now the Rainbow PUSH Coalition). Begun by Martin Luther King Jr. during the 1966 Chicago Freedom Movement, Breadbasket was directed by Jackson. Author Martin L. Deppe was one of Breadbasket’s founding pastors. He digs deeply into the program’s past to update the meager narrative about Breadbasket, add details to King’s and Jackson’s roles, and tell Breadbasket’s little-known story."

Burton L. Mack, The Rise and Fall of the Christian Myth: Restoring Our Democratic Ideals (Yale University Press)
From the publisher: "This book is the culmination of a lifelong scholarly inquiry into Christian history, religion as a social institution, and the role of myth in the history of religions. Mack shows that religions are essentially mythological and that Christianity in particular has been an ever-changing mythological engine of social formation, from Roman times to its distinct American expression in our time."

Jason King, Faith with Benefits: Hookup Culture on Catholic Campuses (Oxford University Press)
From the publisher: "Hookup culture has become widespread on college campuses, and Catholic colleges are no exception. Indeed, despite the fact that most students on Catholic campuses report being unhappy with casual sexual encounters, most studies have found no difference between Catholic colleges and their secular counterparts when it comes to hooking up. Drawing on a survey of over 1000 students from 26 institutions, as well as in-depth interviews, Jason King argues that religious culture on Catholic campuses can, in fact, have an impact on the school's hookup culture, but when it comes to how that relationship works: it's complicated."

Reid L. Neilson and Nathan N. Waite eds., Settling the Valley, Proclaiming the Gospel: The General Epistles of the Mormon First Presidency (Oxford University Press)
From the publisher: "The 14 general epistles, sent out from the First Presidency from 1849 to 1856, provide invaluable perspectives on the events of Mormon history as they unfolded during this complex transitional time. Woven into each epistle are missionary calls and reports from the field, giving the Mormons a glimpse of the wider world far beyond their isolated home. At times, the epistles are a surprising mixture of soaring doctrinal expositions and mundane lists of items needed in Salt Lake City, such as shoe leather and nails. Settling the Valley, Proclaiming the Gospel collects the 14 general epistles, with introductions that provide historical, religious, and environmental contexts for the letters, including how they fit into the Christian epistolary tradition by which they were inspired."

Mark Clatterbuck, ed., Crow Jesus: Personal Stories of Native Religious Belonging (University of Oklahoma Press)
From the publisher: "Crow Christianity speaks in many voices, and in the pages of Crow Jesus, these voices tell a complex story of Christian faith and Native tradition combining and reshaping each other to create a new and richly varied religious identity. In this collection of narratives, fifteen members of the Apsáalooke (Crow) Nation in southeastern Montana and three non-Native missionaries to the reservation describe how Christianity has shaped their lives, their families, and their community through the years."

Steve Pinkerton, Blasphemous Modernism: The 20th-Century Word Made Flesh (Oxford University Press)
Pericles Lewis: "Steve Pinkerton's Blasphemous Modernism is an important study of modernist writers' continuing engagement with religion in the early twentieth century--an era that is sometimes anachronistically treated as totally secularized. Pinkerton shows how writers from the mainstream and the margins of the modernist movement attacked religion because they took it so seriously. This impressive work has significant implications for our current cultural scene, in which accusations of blasphemy continue to have real-world consequences."

Brad Christerson and Richard Flory, The Rise of Network Christianity: How Independent Leaders Are Changing the Religious Landscape (Oxford University Press)
Lisa D. Pearce: "Drilling deeper than statistics showing worldwide growth in Pentecostal or charismatic Christianity, Christerson and Flory insightfully unpack features of its thriving institutions. New forms of institutional authority, avoidance of routinization, and distinctive financial models motivate revised understandings of religious congregations and their lifecycles. By situating religious innovation within broader social changes, including globalization, the digital revolution, and declining bureaucracies, the authors significantly advance theories of the trajectories of contemporary religious institutions."

Philip S. Francis, When Art Disrupts Religion: Aesthetic Experience and the Evangelical Mind (Oxford University Press)
From the publisher: "The stories gathered in these pages lay bare the power of the arts to unsettle and rework deeply ingrained religious beliefs and practices. This book grounds its narrative in the accounts of 82 Evangelicals who underwent a sea-change of religious identity through the intervention of the arts."


Jon Bialecki, A Diagram for Fire: Miracles and Variation in an American Charismatic Movement (University of California Press) 
Hillary Kaell: “Jon Bialecki takes the study of Pentecostal/charismatic Christianity into surprising and welcome new territory by applying Deleuze’s diagram of the relations between social forces to the Vineyard movement and ultimately to religion as a whole. A Diagram for Fire is capacious in its intellectual scope and audacious in the largeness of its claims. It captures the imagination as readers are whisked along through lyrical prose and thought-provoking theoretical interventions.”

Mark Bosco, SJ, and Brent Little, eds., Revelation and Convergence: Flannery O’Connor and the Catholic Intellectual Tradition (Catholic University of America Press)
From the publisher: "Did Flannery O'Connor really write the way she did because and - not in spite of - her Catholicism? Revelation & Convergence brings together professors of literature, theology, and history to help both critics and readers better understand O'Connor's religious imagination."

Philip Gorski, American Covenant: A History of Civil Religion from the Puritans to the Present (Princeton University Press)
John T. McGreevy: "Philip Gorski's stimulating and original history of civil religion restarts a conversation begun by Robert Bellah at the height of the American involvement in Vietnam. It is a vital conversation again in the contemporary United States and Gorski offers a compelling vision of a patriotism that steers between a belligerent nationalism and a dismissal of all religious contributions. It's a learned and even necessary book."

Geoffrey R. Treloar, The Disruption of Evangelicalism: The Age of Torrey, Mott, McPherson and Hammond (IVP Academic)
Michael S. Hamilton: "Geoffrey Treloar reconstructs evangelicalism's 'things fall apart' moment of the early twentieth century with learned grace. Most historians have treated the period as one of polarization within the movement, but Treloar deploys a spectrum framework that highlights the period's complexities and makes better sense of its tensions. His choice of Reuben Torrey, John R. Mott, Aimee Semple McPherson, and Thomas Chatterton Hammond as the period's emblematic figures is a particularly inspired move that will help both general readers and specialists to see evangelicalism with fresh eyes and deeper understanding."

Matthew Baigell, The Implacable Urge to Defame: Cartoon Jews in the American Press, 1877-1935 (Syracuse University Press)
Mona Hadler: "This book is an important contribution to early twentieth-century studies, to Judaic Studies programs, and to the large field of literature that addresses the pernicious effects of ethnic stereotyping."

Carter Dalton Lyon, Sanctuaries of Segregation: The Story of the Jackson Church Visit Campaign (University Press of Mississippi)
Joseph T. Reiff: " intimate portrait of the strategy, tactics, and Christian witness of the Jackson movement’s 1963-64 church visit campaign, a determined appeal to convince white churches in Mississippi’s capital city of the theological and ecclesiological absurdity of their insistence on whites-only worship services. With remarkably thorough research, compelling analysis, and captivating narrative, Lyon uncovers another powerful story of the 1960s black freedom struggle and offers extraordinary insight into the perspectives of actors on all sides of the conflict.”

Richard Ian Kimball, Legends Never Die: Athletes and their Afterlives in Modern America (Syracuse University Press)
From the publisher: "In Legends Never Die, Kimball explores the public myths and representations that surround a wide range of athletes, from Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio to Dale Earnhardt and Bonnie McCarroll. Kimball delves deeper than just the cultural significance of sports and its players; he examines how each athlete’s narrative is shaped by gender relations, religion, and politics in contemporary America. In looking at how Americans react to the tragic deaths of sports heroes, Kimball illuminates the important role sports play in US society and helps to explain why star athletes possess such cultural power."

Manlio Graziano, In Rome We Trust: The Rise of Catholics in American Political Life (Stanford University Press)
Timothy Byrnes: "Graziano provocatively analyzes the Catholic Church as a political institution, drawing attention to the surprisingly robust presence of Catholics at the top of the American political structure while noting the powerful role that US citizens have played in shaping the contours of Catholic approaches to freighted issues at the transnational level. His convincing conclusions with regard to the current mutually influential relationship between United States and Rome make for fascinating reading."

Johari Jabir, Conjuring Freedom: Music and Masculinity in the Civil War's "Gospel Army" (The Ohio State University Press)
Juan Floyd-Thomas: "Examining the complex interplay of sacred and secular elements brought together through the aspirations and agency of African American soldiers, Conjuring Freedom vividly illustrates how the fight for Black emancipation during the U.S. Civil War served as a catalyst for American civil religion’s emergence and evolution.”

Douglas L. Winiarski, Darkness Falls on the Land of Light: Experiencing Religious Awakenings in Eighteenth-Century New England (University of North Carolina Press)
Susan Juster: "A richly textured account of the daily rhythms of religious life in colonial New England over a century of awakening and tumult. Winiarski's account of Congregational hegemony and collapse in the fabled New England town is a masterful synthesis by a scholar especially attentive to the cadences of pietistic language and ritual."

Chip Colwell, Plundered Skulls and Stolen Spirits: Inside the Fight to Reclaim Native America's Culture (University of Chicago Press) 
From the publisher: "Who owns the past and the objects that physically connect us to history? And who has the right to decide this ownership, particularly when the objects are sacred or, in the case of skeletal remains, human? Is it the museums that care for the objects or the communities whose ancestors made them? These questions are at the heart of Plundered Skulls and Stolen Spirits, an unflinching insider account by a leading curator who has spent years learning how to balance these controversial considerations."

Deborah Gray White, Lost in the USA: American Identity from the Promise Keepers to the Million Mom March (University of Illinois Press)
From the publisher: "Drawing on thousands of personal testimonies, Deborah Gray White explores how Americans sought better ways of living in, and dealing with, a rapidly changing world. From the Million Man, Million Woman, and Million Mom Marches to the Promise Keepers and LGBT protests, White reveals a people lost in their own country. Mass gatherings offered a chance to bond with like-minded others against a relentless tide of loneliness and isolation. By participating, individuals opened a door to self-discovery that energized their quests for order, autonomy, personal meaning, and fellowship in a society that seemed hostile to such deeper human needs. Moving forward in time, White also shows what marchers found out about themselves and those gathered around them. The result is an eye-opening reconsideration of a defining time in contemporary America."

Sarah Imhoff, Masculinity and the Making of American Judaism (Indiana University Press)
From the publisher: "How did American Jewish men experience manhood, and how did they present their masculinity to others? In this distinctive book, Sarah Imhoff shows that the project of shaping American Jewish manhood was not just one of assimilation or exclusion. Jewish manhood was neither a mirror of normative American manhood nor its negative, effeminate opposite. Imhoff demonstrates how early 20th-century Jews constructed a gentler, less aggressive manhood, drawn partly from the American pioneer spirit and immigration experience, but also from Hollywood and the YMCA, which required intense cultivation of a muscled male physique. She contends that these models helped Jews articulate the value of an acculturated American Judaism. Tapping into a rich historical literature to reveal how Jews looked at masculinity differently than Protestants or other religious groups, Imhoff illuminates the particular experience of American Jewish men."

James V. Spickard, Alternative Sociologies of Religion Through Non-Western Eyes (NYU Press)
Mary Jo Neitz: "In the last decade there have been a number of highly visible critiques of the Christian and Protestant base of US sociology of religion. James V. Spickard, with his many ties to European sociology of religion, breaks out of the insularity of US research. His deep immersion in nonwestern thought also bears fruit in this text. It is a significant contribution to an ongoing conversation about how research on religion needs to change."

Heath W. Carter and Laura Rominger Porter, eds., Turning Points in the History of American Evangelicalism (Eerdmans)
From the publisher: "Each chapter in this book has been written by one of the world's top experts in American religious history, and together they form a single narrative of evangelicalism's remarkable development. Here is an engaging, balanced, coherent history of American evangelicalism from its origins as a small movement to its status as a central player in the American religious story."

R. David Cox, The Religious Life of Robert E. Lee (Eerdmans)
From the publisher: "Robert E. Lee was many things—accomplished soldier, military engineer, college president, family man, polarizing figure. He was also a person of deep Christian conviction. In this biography of the famous Civil War general, R. David Cox examines Lee's beliefs and how they guided the key events of his life."

Louis Warren, God's Red Son: The Ghost Dance Religion and the Making of Modern America (Basic Books)
From the publisher: "Louis Warren's God's Red Son offers a startling new view of the religion known as the Ghost Dance, from its origins in the visions of a Northern Paiute named Wovoka to the tragedy in South Dakota. To this day, the Ghost Dance remains widely mischaracterized as a primitive and failed effort by Indian militants to resist American conquest and return to traditional ways. In fact, followers of the Ghost Dance sought to thrive in modern America by working for wages, farming the land, and educating their children, tenets that helped the religion endure for decades after Wounded Knee. God's Red Son powerfully reveals how Ghost Dance teachings helped Indians retain their identity and reshape the modern world."

Mark T. Mulder, Aida I. Ramos, and Gerardo Martí, Latino Protestants in America: Diverse and Growing (Rowman & Littlefield)
Jane Juffer: "Weaving together a rich array of sources, these authors demonstrate that Protestant churches in the United States function as increasingly important sites for the production of Latino identity, even as they show that this identity cannot be reduced to any singular definition. In its extensive reach across the country and through its interdisciplinary approach, Latino Protestants in America captures the nuances of religious faith as an everyday practice that also has the power to redefine the political and economic forces that shape our lives."


David G. Dalin, Jewish Justices of the Supreme Court: From Brandeis to Kagan (Brandeis University Press)
Pamela S. Nadell: “This landmark collective biography of the Jewish men and women who have served on our nation’s highest court reminds us that, long before the twenty-first century, conservatives and liberals battled over the limits of free speech, the rule of reason, and even fake news. David Dalin’s Jewish Justices of the Supreme Court is that all-too-rare history that serves up lessons from the past that speak to our moment in time.”

Robert Daniel Rubin, Judicial Review and American Conservatism: Christianity, Public Education, and the Federal Courts in the Reagan Era (Cambridge University Press)
Daniel K. Williams: "Rubin's original and insightful book covers important new ground. I'm impressed with his thought-provoking analysis, clear command of the material, and strong writing. In focusing on one particular region and set of court cases, he sheds new light on the history of the conservative legal movement and tells a fascinating story that will be of interest to many readers."

Nadia Marzouki, Islam: An American Religion (Columbia University Press)
Kambiz GhaneaBassiri: "For the past three decades, Americans have been thinking about Islam and Muslims to enact policies related to immigration, national security, citizenship, cultural belonging, and international relations. Marzouki astutely asks how this has affected public discourse and the politics of religion in the contemporary United States. Her answers are refreshingly nuanced, empirically and theoretically grounded, and global in their scope. This is a timely and immensely thought-provoking book."

Lawrence J. Epstein, Americans and the Birth of Israel (Rowman & Littlefield)
From the publisher: "The book tells the story of how Americans raised money, gathered munitions, ships, and planes, rescued Holocaust survivors and sneaked them past the British patrols, helped Israel prepare militarily, engaged in dramatic political efforts in Washington and the United Nations to secure Israeli statehood, participated in cultural activities to support the Zionist cause, and in other ways made a decisive difference in allowing Israel to be born. From well-known figures like Golda Meir to little-known individuals, Americans and the Birth of Israel brings these compelling stories to light and explores the complex relationship between the United States and Israel historically and today."

Judith Casselberry, The Labor of Faith: Gender and Power in Black Apostolic Pentecostalism (Duke University Press)
From the publisher: "In The Labor of Faith Judith Casselberry examines the material and spiritual labor of the women of The Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ, which is based in Harlem and one of the oldest and largest historically Black Pentecostal denominations in the United States. This male-headed church only functions through the work of the church's women, who despite making up three-quarters of its adult membership hold no formal positions of power. Casselberry shows how the women negotiate this contradiction by using their work to produce and claim a spiritual authority that provides them with a particular form of power."

Philip Goff, Arthur Farnsley, and Peter Thuesen, eds., The Bible in American Life (Oxford University Press)
From the publisher: "The Bible in American Life is a sustained, collaborative reflection on the ways Americans use the Bible in their personal lives. It also considers how other influences, including religious communities and the internet, shape individuals' comprehension of scripture. Employing both quantitative methods (the General Social Survey and the National Congregations Study) and qualitative research (historical studies for context), The Bible in American Life provides an unprecedented perspective on the Bible's role outside of worship, in the lived religion of a broad cross-section of Americans both now and in the past."

Jenna Weissman Joselit, Set in Stone: America's Embrace of the Ten Commandments (Oxford University Press)
From the publisher: "In this vividly rendered narrative, Jenna Weissman Joselit situates the Ten Commandments within the fabric of American history. Her subjects range from the 1860 tale of the amateur who claimed to have discovered ancient holy stones inside a burial mound in Ohio to the San Francisco congregation of Sherith Israel, which commissioned a luminous piece of stained glass depicting Moses in Yosemite for its sanctuary; from the Kansas politician Charles Walter, who in the late nineteenth century proposed codifying each commandment into state law, to the radio commentator Laura Schlessinger, who popularized the Ten Commandments as a psychotherapeutic tool in the 1990s."

Christopher H. Evans, The Social Gospel in American Religion: A History (NYU Press)
Heath Carter: "Christopher Evans has done it again. In this finely-crafted study one of the foremost scholars of the American Social Gospel weaves a story that is at once breathtaking in scope and full of subtle analysis. Anyone interested in the vital intersection of religion and reform in modern United States history will want to read this book."

David Feltmate, Drawn to the Gods: Religion and Humor in The Simpsons, South Park, and Family Guy (NYU Press)
Sarah McFarland Taylor: "Without a doubt, I will use this delightful, well-researched, well-crafted monograph in my media, religion, and popular culture courses. David Feltmate’s book is fun, but it is serious fun. He maps out how humor and satire, as delivered through media platforms, teach audiences how to think about religion in an American cultural context. In so doing, he makes a compelling case for why we need to take humor seriously, and why the vital realm of popular culture is not simply important but indeed central to our research in the study of religion.”

Christopher Densmore, Carol Faulkner, Nancy Hewitt, and Beverly Wilson Palmer, eds., Lucretia Mott Speaks: The Essential Speeches and Sermons (University of Illinois Press)
From the publisher: "Drawing on widely scattered archives, newspaper accounts, and other sources, Lucretia Mott Speaks unearths the essential speeches and remarks from Mott's remarkable career. The editors have chosen selections representing important themes and events in her public life. Extensive annotations provide vibrant context and show Mott's engagement with allies and opponents. The speeches illuminate her passionate belief that her many causes were all intertwined. The result is an authoritative resource, one that enriches our understanding of Mott's views, rhetorical strategies, and still-powerful influence on American society."

Sara Yael Hirschhorn, City on a Hilltop: American Jews and the Israeli Settler Movement (Harvard University Press)
Jonathan D. Sarna: “Fifty years after the first American Jew crossed over the Green Line, Sara Yael Hirschhorn provides a fascinating and well-written history of American Jews and the Israeli settler movement. Hundreds of thousands of American Jews have close family and friendship ties with Jews who live in West Bank cities and settlements. Hirschhorn’s illuminating and timely study punctures many myths concerning these settlers, and places them not only within an Israeli context, but within an American one as well.”

Karissa Haugeberg, Women against Abortion: Inside the Largest Moral Reform Movement of the Twentieth Century (University of Illinois Press) 
Charissa Threat: "This extraordinary study reveals the complex history of anti-abortion activities, one that was dominated by grassroots women, often working outside the mainstream and who, engaged in extensive, direct action, sometimes violent campaigns to end abortion rights in the United States. It will be invaluable for those who want to understand the history of women’s participation in the American Pro-life movement."

Mark A. Lempke, My Brother's Keeper: George McGovern and Progressive Christianity (University of Massachusetts Press)
From the publisher: "George McGovern is chiefly remembered for his landslide loss to Richard Nixon in 1972. Yet at the time, his candidacy raised eyebrows by invoking the prophetic tradition, an element of his legacy that is little studied. In My Brother’s Keeper, Mark A. Lempke explores the influence of McGovern’s evangelical childhood, Social Gospel worldview, and conscientious Methodism on a campaign that brought antiwar activism into the mainstream."

Leonard Rogoff, Gertrude Weil: Jewish Progressive in the New South (University of North Carolina Press)
Deborah Dash Moore: "This first major biography of Gertrude Weil tells the story of an amazing southern Jewish New Woman who lived virtually all of her life in the house in which she was born but whose impact reverberated widely. In her story we see the power of localism, sisterhood across religious boundaries, and intellect, politics, and wealth used to advance and improve society. It reveals a blend of religious and familial devotion that helped to secure Weil against the prejudices of anti-Semitism and the seductions of Christian universalism."

Holly Folk, The Religion of Chiropractic: Populist Healing from the American Heartland (The University of North Carolina Press)
Pamela Klassen: “Offering fascinating insights into the chiropractic movement, its leaders, changing etiologies, and wider significance, Holly Folk provides a robust and original interpretation of the chiropractic narratives. With the fascinating and sometimes bizarre stories of the Palmer family here set into an argument of broad interest to scholars of religion and lay readers alike, I find myself thinking about the Palmers through the lens of today’s manifestations of populist rhetoric.”

Katherine M. Faull, ed., Speaking to Body and Soul: Instructions for the Moravian Choir Helpers, 1785–1786 (Penn State University Press)
Gisela Mettele: “This edition, a valuable resource for scholars and students alike with high cross-disciplinary appeal, offers fresh perspectives for research on the interconnections among religious beliefs and sexuality as well as on the history of adolescence. It questions common assumptions concerning the relation between the sacred and the secular and offers a new focus on the surprising attention that was given to physical health and bodily concerns in the process of the formation of the religious self.”

Alec Ryrie, Protestants: The Faith That Made the Modern World (Viking)
Jon Meacham: "In this compelling and sweeping book, Alec Ryrie charts the history of one of the greatest forces in the making of modernity: the rise of the Protestant faith and ethos. Without it, one is hard-pressed to envision the spread of capitalism or of democracy. Ryrie writes that his aim 'is to persuade you that we cannot understand the modern age without understanding the dynamic history of Protestant Christianity.' To which I reply: Mission accomplished."

Frances FitzGerald, The Evangelicals: The Struggle to Shape America (Simon and Schuster)
From the publisher: "Evangelicals have in many ways defined the nation. They have shaped our culture and our politics. Frances FitGerald’s narrative of this distinctively American movement is a major work of history, piecing together the centuries-long story for the first time. Evangelicals now constitute twenty-five percent of the American population, but they are no longer monolithic in their politics. They range from Tea Party supporters to social reformers. Still, with the decline of religious faith generally, FitzGerald suggests that evangelical churches must embrace ethnic minorities if they are to survive."

Allison Giffen and Robin L. Cadwallader, Girlhood and Evangelicalism in the Nineteenth Century (Routledge)
From the publisher: "This book makes a significant contribution to the burgeoning field of childhood studies in nineteenth-century literature and culture by drawing on the intersecting fields of girlhood, evangelicalism, and reform to investigate texts written in North America about girls, for girls, and by girls."

Patrick Mason, What is Mormonism? A Student's Introduction (Routledge)
John Turner: "An eminently readable introduction to a religious tradition many Americans have found baffling. What Is Mormonism? is the ideal guide for students, teachers, and others seeking to make sense of the doctrines, rituals, culture, and history of the LDS Church."

Robert W. Caldwell III, Theologies of the American Revivalists: From Whitefield to Finney (IVP Academic)
Mark Noll: "Revival―or even more, the longing for revival―has been central throughout American Christian history. But what is meant by revival? Robert Caldwell's well-researched and exceedingly evenhanded book explains clearly what leaders of the American First and Second Great Awakenings taught concerning conversion, free will, the Holy Spirit, and how to interpret Scripture. He also explores with rare sensitivity what they assumed in their revival theologies. The result is a book rich in historical insight but also practical in guiding believers today in thinking about this vitally important matter."

Krister Dylan Knapp, William James: Psychical Research and the Challenge of Modernity (University of North Carolina Press)
Amanda Porterfield: "Krister Dylan Knapp's William James helps us better understand why James's pragmatic approach to religion caught on and why it continues to attract followers today. James's interest in paranormal activity, telepathy, hypnotism, and communications with the dead was not merely a sideline or a passing phase, Knapp shows, but an enduring, relentless, and critical search for evidence that such things might stand up to scientific scrutiny. In addition to chronicling James's doggedness in pursuit of psychic phenomena, Knapp shows how closely this pursuit was intertwined with other aspects of James's work that proved more influential. His discussion of James's tertium quid offers keen insight into James's disposition as a thinker, and I expect others will come to rely on Knapp's thesis."


Mark T. Edwards said…
Thanks again, Paul, for this list of amazing new books! I saw Wendell Berry's name, so I thought I'd throw in this forthcoming study of Berry by two of my colleagues:
Paul Putz said…
Thanks Mark! From what I can see that book has a June publication date, so I'll be sure to include it in the next book list.

I did update the book list with this title (thanks to Joseph Reiff for the suggestion): Carter Dalton Lyon, Sanctuaries of Segregation: The Story of the Jackson Church Visit Campaign (University Press of Mississippi)

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