New Books in American Religious History: 2017 Year in Preview, Part Two (May-August)

Paul Putz

It's time for part two of the 2017 book preview list! This one will cover books published from May through August. (If you missed part one check it out here). Shout out to Hunter Hampton, who culled through the university press catalogs to help me put this list together.

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)


David Harrington Watt, Antifundamentalism in Modern America (Cornell University Press)
Diane Winston: "...a timely and provocative book that deserves wide readership. David Harrington Watt questions taken-for-granted assumptions about fundamentalism, probing to understand the meaning, uses, and political work that surround this familiar term. His intention is not just to retrieve fundamentalism's original meaning, but also to explore how and why it came to characterize so much more than its initial denotation of a specific strand of American Protestantism. Watt stakes out the word’s journey through academia, sermons, newspapers, and popular culture, explaining its early and ongoing attraction for secular and religious polemicists. He also shows why from the 1970s on, 'fundamentalist' became a convenient label for religious others who roiled the burgeoning secular and capitalist global world order."

Robert E. Hooper, If Your Enemy Hungers, Feed Him: Church of Christ Missionaries in Japan, 1882-1970 (Abilene Christian University Press)
From the publisher: In this book, Robert E. Hooper, the former chair of the History department at Lipscomb University, shares the fruit of more than forty years of historical research....The world of the early twentieth century was dominated by nationalism and propaganda—an “us versus them” mentality. If Your Enemy Hungers Feed Him tells the story of how the gospel redirected a generation of Christians away from violence so that they could see the people of Japan in a new way.

Judith Casselberry, The Labor of Faith: Gender and Power in Black Apostolic Pentecostalism (Duke University Press)
Marla Frederick: " important contribution to the study of American religion and African American religious culture in particular. Casselberry's attention to the concept of 'labor' helps reshape our well-worn attention to agency in the study of faith-filled women. The beauty of her narrative voice brings alive in striking detail the lives of the women of the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ."

Tera W. Hunter, Bound in Wedlock: Slave and Free Black Marriage in the Nineteenth Century (Harvard University Press)
From the publisher: "...the first comprehensive history of African American marriage in the nineteenth century. Uncovering the experiences of African American spouses in plantation records, legal and court documents, and pension files, Tera W. Hunter reveals the myriad ways couples adopted, adapted, revised, and rejected white Christian ideas of marriage. Setting their own standards for conjugal relationships, enslaved husbands and wives were creative and, of necessity, practical in starting and supporting families under conditions of uncertainty and cruelty."

Karissa Haugeberg, Women Against Abortion: Inside the Largest Moral Reform Movement of the Twentieth Century (University of Illinois Press)
Linda Gordon: "Even to someone who has been studying reproductive rights for forty years, this book is an eye opener--a serious, feminist, and respectful history of women in the anti-abortion movement. It challenges some of the most often repeated generalizations about anti-abortion activists by examining the varied strategies and personalities as well as the internal conflicts. Possibly the best book yet on that movement, it is also a vivid and fast-moving read."

Robert S. Kim, Project Eagle: The American Christians of North Korea in World War II (Potomac Books)
From the publisher: "Robert S. Kim contributes to a fuller understanding of Asia in World War II by revealing the role of American Christian missionary families in the development of the Korean independence movement and the creation of Project Eagle, the forgotten alliance between that movement and the Office of Strategic Services (OSS)."

M. Cooper Harriss, Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Theology (New York University Press)
Paul Harvey: "In this wide-ranging analysis, incorporating everything from biblical texts to Puritan sermons, from the Harlem Renaissance to mid-century political theologians to contemporary debates, M. Cooper Harriss excavates the 'lower frequencies' of Ralph Ellison's central metaphor of invisibility. He shows how Ellison injects race into contemporary discussions of secularism, and in the process illuminates much not just about Invisible Man, but about how race orders the American cosmos."

Antony Alumkal, Paranoid Science: The Christian Right's War on Reality (New York University Press)
Jerry Park: "A small but highly organized network of conservative Christians maintains a successful pseudo-scientific campaign to challenge established scientific topics including evolution, sexual orientation, bioethics, and climatology that they find threatening to their worldview. Alumkal’s unflinching critical analysis of their popular writings and educational media provides an excellent window into the political culture and theological motivations, mindsets and machinations within this movement. Fit for the times, Paranoid Science is engaging reading that elucidates the extent to which religious motivations can distort scientific inquiry for political ends."

Erik Love, Islamophobia and Racism in America (New York University Press)
Hisham Aidi: “Wedding institutional analysis with rigorous empirical research, Love shows how Middle Eastern American political identity was born at the intersection of state policy and societal hostility. Original, timely, and chillingly lucid, this work falls within the best traditions of sociology, critical race theory, and institutional history.”

Holly Folk, The Religion of Chiropractic: Populist Healing from the American Heartland (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.”

Krister 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."

Robert A. Kittle, Franciscan Frontiersmen: How Three Adventurers Charted the West (University of Oklahoma Press)
Iris Engstrand: "...brings together the lives of three distinctly different priests with a common Christian mission who followed Native trails to California. Robert A. Kittle provides new insights into the rigors of daily life on the frontiers of New Spain as the priests accompanied such well-known travelers as Father Junípero Serra, Juan Bautista de Anza, and Gaspar de Portolá on their respective journeys. Drawing on multiple Spanish sources in his quest for accuracy, the author comes to grips with the question of whether the Franciscans should be remembered as saints or sinners. This book is both an indispensable reference for scholars and an enjoyable read for all those interested in the saga of three lesser-known heroes of the Spanish Southwest.”

Richard E. Turley Jr., Janiece L. Johnson, LaJean Purcell Carruth, eds., Mountain Meadows Massacre: Collected Legal Papers, Initial Investigations and Indictments (University of Oklahoma Press)
From the publishers: "The editors of this two-volume collection of documents have combed public and private manuscript collections from across the United States to reconstruct the complex legal proceedings that occurred in the massacre’s aftermath. This exhaustively researched compilation covers a nearly forty-year history of investigation and prosecution—from the first reports of the massacre to the dismissal of the last indictment in 1896."

Terry Rey, The Priest and the Prophetess: Abbé Ouvière, Romaine Rivière, and the Revolutionary Atlantic World (Oxford University Press)
James H. Sweet: "Tracing the collaboration and divergence of two remarkable figures—one a defrocked French priest, the other an African-descended prophetess—Terry Rey brilliantly illuminates the role of popular Catholicism as an intellectual force in the revolutionary Atlantic world. Along the way, Rey resurrects little-known life histories of the Haitian Revolution. Deeply researched and engagingly written, this is micro-history at its very best."

David Delbert Kruger, J. C. Penney: The Man, the Store, and American Agriculture (University of Oklahoma Press)
From the publisher: "What is now called JCPenney, a fixture of suburban shopping malls, started out as a small-town Main Street store that fused its founder’s interests in agriculture, retail business, religion, and philanthropy. This book—at once a biography of Missouri farm boy–turned–business icon James Cash Penney and the story of the company he started in 1902—brings to light the little-known agrarian roots of an American department store chain. David Delbert Kruger explores how the company, its stores, and their famous founder shaped rural America throughout the twentieth century."

Kevin J. Hayes, George Washington: A Life in Books (Oxford University Press)
From the publisher: "Based on a comprehensive amount of research at the Library of Congress, the collections at Mount Vernon, and rare book archives scattered across the country, Kevin J. Hayes corrects this misconception and reconstructs in vivid detail the active intellectual life that has gone largely unnoticed in conventional narratives of Washington....The sheer breadth of titles under review here allow readers to glimpse Washington's views on foreign policy, economics, the law, art, slavery, marriage, and religion, and how those views shaped the young nation."

Jenna Weissman Joselit, Set in Stone: America's Embrace of the Ten Commandments (Oxford University Press)
Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett: "A brilliant reading of a durable icon, the Ten Commandments, in word and substance. There are many a surprising twist and turn in this imaginatively researched study of a ubiquitous object of material religion, whether in synagogues and churches, comic books and movies, at the Passover table, or in courts of law. The writing sparkles with wit and insight, a delight to read. Set in Stone is simply exemplary in every regard."

Jeff W. Dennis, Patriots and Indians: Shaping Identity in Eighteenth-Century South Carolina (The University of South Carolina Press)
From the publisher: "...examines relationships between elite South Carolinians and Native Americans through the colonial, Revolutionary, and early national periods. Eighteenth-century South Carolinians interacted with Indians in business and diplomatic affairs, as enemies and allies during times of war and less frequently in matters of scientific, religious, or sexual interest. Jeff W. Dennis elaborates on these connections and their seminal effects on the American Revolution and the establishment of the state of South Carolina."

Doris Andrea Dirks and Patricia A. Relf, To Offer Compassion: A History of the Clergy Consultation Service on Abortion (University of Wisconsin Press)
Cynthia Gorney: “This compelling history explores one of the twentieth century's most unusual religious endeavors—the collective defiance of American clergy who were willing to help direct women to illegal but safe abortions. No previous account of the Clergy Consultation Service has told their whole story so thoroughly and vividly.”

Thomas S. Kidd, Benjamin Franklin: The Religious Life of a Founding Father (Yale University Press) 
Catherine A. Brekus: “Was Benjamin Franklin a Christian? A polytheist? A skeptic? A deist? This lucid, engaging book offers a compelling new interpretation of Franklin’s faith. A must read for anyone interested in the beliefs of the Founders.”

Joseph Kip Kosek, ed., American Religion, American Politics: An Anthology (Yale University Press)
Mark Noll: "Joseph Kip Koseck’s intelligent, informative, and insightful assemblage of documents illuminates questions central to American history and intensely relevant at the present."

Peter Manseau, Objects of Devotion: Religion in Early America (Smithsonian Books)
From the publisher: "...tells the story of religion in the United States through the material culture of diverse spiritual pursuits in the nation's colonial period and the early republic. The beautiful, full-color companion volume to a Smithsonian National Museum of American History exhibition, the book explores the wide range of religious traditions vying for adherents, acceptance, and a prominent place in the public square from the 1630s to the 1840s."

Justo L. Gonzalez, A Brief History of Sunday: From the New Testament to the New Creation (Eerdmans)
From the publisher: "In this accessible historical overview of Sunday, noted scholar Justo González tells the story of how and why Christians have worshiped on Sunday from the earliest days of the church to the present."


Douglas E. Thompson, Richmond's Priests and Prophets: Race, Religion, and Social Change in the Civil Rights Era (University of Alabama Press)
Andrew Manis: “Thoroughly examining the clergy in one upper-South city, but one that just happened to have been the capital of the Confederacy, Thompson provides a compelling argument that the standard evaluation of the white southern clergy as too invested in advancing up the ministerial ladder ‘ain’t necessarily so’ and raises a cautionary voice against the ‘Silent South’ thesis."

Lisa Vox, Existential Threats: American Apocalyptic Beliefs in the Technological Era (University of Pennsylvania Press)
Ronald L. Numbers: "...offers lucidly written and knowledgeable discussions of fundamentalism, Pentecostalism, premillennialism, and dispensationalism and brings them to bear on a topic of interest to both religion and science: the end of the world as Americans imagine it."

Samuel C. Heilman, Who Will Lead Us?: The Story of Five Hasidic Dynasties in America (University of California Press)
Ada Rapoport-Albert: "...brilliantly demonstrates that the remarkable resurrection of Hasidism has been due to its capacity for maintaining the charismatic authority of its dynastic leadership. This is by far the most insightful study of the social, economic, and political dynamics of Hasidim today.”

J. Patrick Mullins, Father of Liberty: Jonathan Mayhew and the Principles of the American Revolution (University of Kansas Press)
Rosemarie Zagarri: “Long before the first shots were fired at Lexington and Concord, the Reverend Jonathan Mayhew preached a message from his Boston pulpit that powerfully blended a defense of religious liberty with an emerging notion of constitutional resistance to British tyranny. His ideas shaped the thinking of future leaders of the American Revolution such as John Adams, James Otis, Robert Treat Paine, Josiah Quincy, Paul Revere, and many others. Seamlessly integrating political, intellectual, and religious history, Mullins’s elegant and illuminating study restores Mayhew to his rightful place in emergence of Revolutionary protest while also conveying the full complexity and originality of Mayhew’s thought.”

Jack R. Baker and Jeffrey Bilbro, Wendell Berry and Higher Education: Cultivating Virtues of Place (University of Kentucky Press)
Matt Bonzo: "...offers a helpful and much-needed counternarrative to the pragmatic visions of higher education that dominate the current discussion. Works like this are essential for finding a way forward in a time marked by the arrogance of Wall Street, the failure of political discourse, and educational practices that hide more problems than they address."

Peter B. Dedek, The Cemeteries of New Orleans A Cultural History (Louisiana State University Press)
Andrew Gulliford: “Peter Dedek has authored a definitive cultural history of New Orleans’ historic cemeteries. Well researched and illustrated with photos, maps, and engravings, The Cemeteries of New Orleans tells tales of immigrants, Creoles, Africans, free people of color, and the diverse burial practices of the Crescent City from Civil War soldiers to voodoo practitioners. Dedek writes about the cities of the dead and their connections to Roman and Greek mortuary traditions as well as the impact of Parisian architects and mixed-race stonecutters. Dedek has done careful scholarly research on the fusion of Louisiana disease and death, race and caste, tomb building and social status..."

Mark Hollabaugh, The Spirit and the Sky: Lakota Visions of the Cosmos (University of Nebraska Press)
Harry Thompson: “Through a comprehensive introduction to Lakota cultural astronomy, Mark Hollabaugh invites the reader to see the limitless skies over the Northern Plains much as did the Lakota of the nineteenth century. His incisive assessment of winter counts, ledger books, written records, celestial phenomena, and the Sun Dance is remarkably illuminating and heartily welcome.”

Alexander B. Haskell, For God, King, and People: Forging Commonwealth Bonds in Renaissance Virginia (University of North Carolina Press)
Alison Games: "Anchored in prodigious research in contemporary texts, Alexander Haskell's learned book recasts the story of English overseas enterprises in general and of Virginia in particular. His innovative insistence on delineating Virginia's Renaissance origins offers a fresh perspective on that most familiar of places, turning our attention from tobacco to Christian humanism and the proper relationship of planters and rulers."

Benjamin R. Kracht, Kiowa Belief and Ritual (University of Nebraska Press)
Michael Paul Jordan: "...offers a meticulously researched and richly detailed account of pre-reservation Kiowa religious life. Benjamin Kracht makes extensive use of interviews conducted with Kiowa elders in 1935, and their recollections and experiences make for compelling reading. This is a significant contribution to the literature on Native North America.”

Ruth Braunstein, Todd Nicholas Fuist, and Rhys H. Williams, eds., Religion and Progressive Activism: New Stories about Faith and Politics (New York University Press)
E.J. Dionne Jr.: “Social scientists have invested a great deal of energy in trying to understand the religious right, but not nearly enough time and effort has been devoted to the crucial role, in our past and present, of the religious left. This book is thus an enormous contribution and a groundbreaking work. This timely volume shatters the myth of the religious right’s monopoly on faith-based political activism. While acknowledging the difficulties confronted by religious liberals in organizing for social justice, the authors provide a wealth of new evidence-based insights about how to strengthen the progressive religious movement at a time when its witness is badly needed.”

Sarah Azaransky, This Worldwide Struggle: Religion and the International Roots of the Civil Rights Movement (Oxford University Press)
Traci C. West: "Azaransky offers a savvy, cogently written understanding of the internationalism of early twentieth-century black Christian intellectuals and activists. She comprehensively details previously neglected history of African American religious contributions to global moral commitments challenging white supremacy and socioeconomic inequalities. This book is an inspiring primer in deliberately crafted frontiers of justice-oriented black Christianity, so timely for anyone seeking hopeful roadmaps for similar contemporary forms of religious solidarity supporting human dignity across borders."

Prema A. Kurien, Ethnic Church Meets Megachurch: Indian American Christianity in Motion (New York University Press)
John J. Thatamanil: "With careful fieldwork done over decades in two countries, Prema Kurien’s work will serve as a model for how to do sociological and ethnographic work within immigrant communities that remain in robust connection to their countries of origin, even as they try to find their footing in their new home. A must read for all who seek to understand the transformation of American religious life under the pressures of migration and globalization!"

Bruce B. Lawrence, The Koran in English: A Biography (Princeton University Press)
Kecia Ali: "At a moment when historically grounded reflection on European and American interactions with Islam and Muslims is vital, Bruce Lawrence offers an engaging and opinionated book based on wide-ranging scholarship. Accessible to adventurous beginners and illuminating for specialists, The 'Koran' in English is a terrific read."

Samuel L. Perry, Growing God’s Family: The Global Orphan Care Movement and the Limits of Evangelical Activism (New York University Press)
Christian Smith: "This fascinating case study deftly captures the authentic spirit of so many American evangelical 'movements' for change, explaining with empathetic and fair but brutally honest criticism why and how religiously motivated people and activism can prove in the end to be ironically self-undermining and ineffective. A valuable contribution to our sociological understanding of American evangelicalism and religious movements and culture."

Andrew Finstuen, Grant Wacker, and Anne Blue Wills, eds., Billy Graham: American Pilgrim (Oxford University Press)
Randall Balmer: "Billy Graham's emergence as a religious celebrity provided legitimacy for the entire movement we know today as evangelicalism. In this remarkable volume, a stellar lineup of contributors provides fresh insight into the most famous and influential evangelical of the twentieth century."

Daniel A. Grano, The Eternal Present of Sport: Rethinking Sport and Religion (Temple University Press)
From the publisher: "In his persuasive study The Eternal Present of Sport, Daniel Grano rethinks the sport-religion relationship by positioning sport as a source of theological trouble. Focusing on bodies, time, movement, and memory, he demonstrates how negative theology can be practically and theoretically useful as a critique of elite televised sport."

Susan M. Ouellette, An Extraordinary Ordinary Woman: The Journal of Phebe Orvis, 1820–1830 (SUNY Press)
Jacqueline Barbara Carr: “Ouellette’s chronicle offers the reader a beautifully crafted and richly textured account of ten years in the life of a young woman as she transitions from unmarried to married life on the New York and Vermont frontier. In the hands of Ouellette, the diary of Phebe Orvis is interpreted with skill and grace, and her life experiences are firmly grounded in the vibrant world of post-revolutionary America. This engaging work will be liked by those readers seeking a deeper understanding of the lives of women and family in the Early Republic as well as those interested in the history of New York, Vermont, and the American frontier.”

George F. Bagby, Hollis F. Price Uncommon Man, Educator, Leader (University of Tennessee Press)
From the publisher: "...tells the extraordinary story of a man who for nearly thirty years led a small, historically black college through turbulent times in Memphis and sought to achieve racial progress through cooperation rather than confrontation. As president of LeMoyne (later LeMoyne-Owen) College from 1943 to 1970, Hollis Price oversaw dramatic growth in the size and quality of the college’s student body, faculty, and physical plant. As a member of the Congregational Church/United Church of Christ, he was a leader both in his own congregation and in the church nationally. As a worker for the United Negro College Fund from its inception in 1943 until his death in 1982, he was a leading fundraiser, offered creative solutions to problems, and pushed for the UNCF’s history to be recorded..."

Catherine A. Brekus, ed., Sarah Osborn’s Collected Writings (Yale University Press)
Laurel Thatcher Ulrich: “In a magnificent biography, Catherine Brekus introduced readers to the life of Sarah Osborn. In this generous and beautifully-edited anthology, she has done even more. To use Osborn's own words, she has managed "to roll the work of instruction" into the hands of others. Teachers, scholars, specialists, and general readers can now discover Osborn and her world on their own.”

Ángel Cortés, Sectarianism and Orestes Brownson in the American Religious Marketplace (Palgrave Macmillan)
Daniel Walker Howe: “This cogent, fluently written account illuminates the diversity of 19th century American society and religion through the surprising career of Orestes Brownson. By turns a Universalist, Presbyterian, nonsectarian, Unitarian, and Transcendentalist, Brownson finally converted to Catholicism, but never escaped controversy.”

William Harrison Taylor, Unity in Christ and Country: American Presbyterians in the Revolutionary Era, 1758–1801 (University of Alabama Press)
From the publisher: "William Harrison Taylor investigates the American Presbyterian Church’s pursuit of Christian unity and demonstrates how, through this effort, the church helped to shape the issues that gripped the American imagination, including evangelism, the conflict with Great Britain, slavery, nationalism, and sectionalism."


Fred Behrend and Larry Hanover, Rebuilt from Broken Glass: A German Jewish Life Remade in America (Purdue University Press)
From the publisher: "Behrend went from a sheltered life of wealth in a long-gone, old-world Germany, dwelling in the gilded compound once belonging to the manufacturer of the zeppelin airships, to a poor Jewish immigrant in New York City learning English from Humphrey Bogart films. Upon returning from service in the U.S. Army, he rose out of poverty, built a successful business in Manhattan, and returned to visit Germany a dozen times, giving him unique perspective into Germany's attempts to surmount its Nazi past."

Laura Dasso Walls, Henry David Thoreau: A Life (The University of Chicago Press)
Robert D. Richardson: "Laura Dassow Walls has written a grand, big-hearted biography, as compulsively readable as a great nineteenth century novel, chock-full of new and fascinating detail about Thoreau, his family, his friends, and his town. Walls's magnificent--landmark--achievement is the best all around biography of Thoreau ever written. It not only brings Thoreau vividly back to life, it will fundamentally change how we see him. We will hear no more about the 'hermit of Walden Pond.' Walls has given us a new socially engaged Thoreau for a new era, a freedom fighter for John Brown and America, and a necessary prophet and spokesman for Concord Mass. and Planet Earth."

Nicholas K. Rademacher, Paul Hanly Furfey: Priest, Scientist, Social Reformer (Fordham University Press)
From the publisher: "Nicholas Rademacher's book is meticulously researched and clearly written, shedding new light on Monsignor Paul Hanly Furfey's life by drawing on Furfey's copious published material and substantial archival deposit. Paul Hanly Furfey (1896-1992) is one of U.S. Catholicism's greatest champions of peace and social justice. He and his colleagues at The Catholic University of America offered a revolutionary view of the university as a center for social transformation, not only in training students to be agents for social change but also in establishing structures which would empower and transform the communities that surrounded the university."

Michael L. Clemons, Donathan L. Brown, and William H. L. Dorsey, eds., Dream and Legacy: Dr. Martin Luther King in the Post-Civil Rights Era (University Press of Mississippi)
From the publisher: "This book examines how Martin Luther King's life and work had a profound, if unpredictable, impact on the course of the United States since the civil rights era....With unique, multidisciplinary works by scholars from around the country, this anthology focuses on contemporary social policies and issues in America. Collectively, these pieces explore wide-ranging issues and contemporary social developments through the lens of Dr. King's perceptions, analysis, and prescriptions. Essayists bring a multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary approach to social policies and current issues in light of his ideals. They strive to glean new approaches and solutions that comport with Dr. King's vision."

Mark Stein, Vice Capades: Sex, Drugs, and Bowling from the Pilgrims to the Present (Potomac Books)
From the publisher: "From outlawing bowling in colonial America to regulating violent video games and synthetic drugs today, Mark Stein’s Vice Capades examines the nation’s relationship with the actions, attitudes, and antics that have defined morality. This humorous and quirky history reveals that our views of vice are formed not merely by morals but by power."

Brandi Denison, Ute Land Religion in the American West, 1879–2009 (University of Nebraska Press)
Tisa Wenger: “This terrific book shows how white settlers in Colorado used the construct of ‘Ute Land Religion’ to justify their appropriation of Native land, how Ute people both resisted and participated in that invention, and how the category of religion has functioned in the making and remaking of the American West.”

Erika Gasser, Vexed with Devils: Manhood and Witchcraft in Old and New England (New York University Press)
Thomas A. Foster: "Vexed with Devils focuses on how manhood figures in the published texts that circulated in seventeenth-century England and New England. Professor Gasser’s work will quickly be taken up by scholars in a broad range of early American and English fields, including studies of religion, race, gender, and politics, and will change the way that we think about witchcraft."

David N. Hempton and Hugh McLeod, eds., Secularization and Religious Innovation in the North Atlantic World (Oxford University Press)
From the publisher: "...provides a systematic comparison between the religious histories of the United States and western European countries from the eighteenth to the late twentieth century, noting parallels as well as divergences, examining their causes and especially highlighting change over time. This is achieved by a series of themes which seem especially relevant to this agenda, and in each case the theme is considered by two scholars. The volume examines whether American Christians have been more innovative, and if so how far this explains the apparent "God Gap." It goes beyond the simple American/European binary to ask what is "American" or "European" in the Christianity of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and in what ways national or regional differences outweigh these commonalities."

Terryl L. Givens, Feeding the Flock: The Foundations of Mormon Thought: Church and Praxis (Oxford University Press)
From the publisher: "...the second volume of Terryl L. Givens's landmark study of the foundations of Mormon thought and practice, traces the essential contours of Mormon practice as it developed from Joseph Smith to the present. Despite the stigmatizing fascination with its social innovations (polygamy, communalism), its stark supernaturalism (angels, gold plates, and seer stones), and its most esoteric aspects (a New World Garden of Eden, sacred undergarments), as well as its long-standing outlier status among American Protestants, Givens reminds us that Mormonism remains the most enduring-and thriving-product of the nineteenth-century's religious upheavals and innovations."

Joseph L. Locke, Making the Bible Belt: Texas Prohibitionists and the Politicization of Southern Religion (Oxford University Press)
From the publisher: "...upends notions of a longstanding, stable marriage between political religion and the American South. H.L. Mencken coined the term 'the Bible Belt' in the 1920s to capture the peculiar alliance of religion and public life in the South, but the reality he described was only the closing chapter of a long historical process....Exploring the controversies surrounding the religious support of prohibition in Texas, Making the Bible Belt reconstructs the purposeful, decades-long campaign to politicize southern religion, hints at the historical origins of the religious right, and explores a compelling and transformative moment in American history."

Pamela Winfield and Steven Heine, ed., Zen and Material Culture (Oxford University Press)
From the publisher: "The stereotype of Zen Buddhism as a minimalistic or even immaterial meditative tradition persists in the Euro-American cultural imagination. This volume calls attention to the vast range of 'stuff' in Zen by highlighting the material abundance and iconic range of the Soto, Rinzai, and Obaku sects in Japan. Chapters on beads, bowls, buildings, staffs, statues, rags, robes, and even retail commodities in America all shed new light on overlooked items of lay and monastic practice in both historical and contemporary perspectives."

James B. Bell, Anglicans, Dissenters and Radical Change in Early New England, 1686-1786 (Palgrave Macmillan) 
From the publisher: "This book considers three defining movements driven from London and within the region that describe the experience of the Church of England in New England between 1686 and 1786. It explores the radical imperial political and religious change that occurred in Puritan New England following the late seventeenth-century introduction of a new charter for the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the Anglican Church in Boston and the public declaration of several Yale ‘apostates’ at the 1722 college commencement exercises. These events transformed the religious circumstances of New England and fuelled new attention and interest in London for the national church in early America."

Chad Alan Goldberg, Modernity and the Jews in Western Social Thought (University of Chicago Press)
Lila Corwin Berman: “Above all, a singularly lucid summation of the modern ‘Jewish question’ as a sociological question, Modernity and the Jews makes a compelling case for the value of historical sociology. Goldberg situates French, German, and American social thinkers in their historical contexts in order to show how and why they produced the Jew, as a category of analysis and a means of social criticism. By employing a comparative mode, he shows how social thought about the Jew reflected specific circumstances and, also, replicated habits of thought about political modes, economic systems, and cultural forms. A bold book, unafraid to step into the fray of debates about Orientalism, the role of the Muslim in today’s social thought, and the claims of anti-Zionism, Modernity and the Jews brings the history of western social thought directly into our own moment in time.”


Christina Zanfagna, Holy Hip Hop in the City of Angels (University of California Press)
From the publisher: "In the 1990s, Los Angeles was home to numerous radical social and environmental eruptions. In the face of several major earthquakes and floods, riots and economic insecurity, police brutality and mass incarceration, some young black Angelenos turned to holy hip hop—a movement merging Christianity and hip hop culture—to “save” themselves and the city....Zanfagna’s fascinating ethnography provides a contemporary and unique view of black LA, offering a much-needed perspective on how music and religion intertwine in people's everyday experiences."

Bryce Traister, ed., American Literature and the New Puritan Studies (Cambridge University Press)
From the publisher: "This book contains thirteen original essays about Puritan culture in colonial New England. Prompted by the growing interest in secular studies, as well as postnational, transnational, and postcolonial critique in the humanities, American Literature and the New Puritan Studies seeks to represent and advance contemporary interest in a field long recognized, however problematically, as foundational to the study of American literature. It invites readers of American literature and culture to reconsider the role of seventeenth-century Puritanism in the creation of the United States of America and its consequent cultural and literary histories. It also records the significant transformation in the field of Puritan studies that has taken place in the last quarter century."

Brett Hendrickson, The Healing Power of the Santuario de Chimayo: America’s Miraculous Church (New York University Press)
Tisa Wenger: "In this tenderly and often profoundly written book, Brett Hendrickson unpacks the overlapping claims to religious ownership that locals, church leaders, pilgrims, tourists, and sometimes scholars make to the Santuario de Chimayó, a place layered with experiences of miraculous dirt and shaped by the legacies of competing empires. This is a story that needed to be told, and Hendrickson shows how it resonates far beyond the borders and borderlands of New Mexico."

Amanda Porterfield, Darren Grem, and John Corrigan, eds., The Business Turn in American Religious History (Oxford University Press)
From the publishers: "Business has received little attention in American religious history, although it has profound implications for understanding the sustained popularity and ongoing transformation of religion in the United States. This volume offers a wide ranging exploration of the business aspects of American religious organizations. The authors analyze the financing, production, marketing, and distribution of religious goods and services and the role of wealth and economic organization in sustaining and even shaping worship, charity, philanthropy, institutional growth, and missionary work. Treating religion and business holistically, their essays show that American religious life has always been informed by business practices."

Almeda Wright, The Spiritual Lives of Young African Americans (Oxford University Press)
From the publisher: "How do young African Americans approach their faith in God when continued violence and police brutality batters the news each day? In The Spiritual Lives of Young African Americans, Almeda M. Wright argues that African American youth separate their everyday lives and their spirituality into mutually exclusive categories. This results in a noticeable division between their experiences of systemic injustices and their religious beliefs and practices. Yet Wright suggests that youth can and do teach the church and society myriad lessons through their theological reflections and actions."

John Wigger, PTL: The Rise and Fall of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker’s Evangelical Empire (Oxford University Press)
From the publisher: "PTL is more than just the spectacular story of the rise and fall of the Bakkers, John Wigger traces their lives from humble beginnings to wealth, fame, and eventual disgrace. At its core, PTL is the story of a group of people committed to religious innovation, who pushed the boundaries of evangelical religion's engagement with American culture. Drawing on trial transcripts, videotapes, newspaper articles, and interviews with key insiders, dissidents, and lawyers, Wigger reveals the power of religion to redirect American culture. This is the story of a grand vision gone wrong, of the power of big religion in American life and its limits."

Michael J. Altman, Heathen, Hindoo, Hindu: American Representations of India, 1721-1893 (Oxford University Press)
Andrea R. Jain: "Michael Altman's Heathen, Hindoo, Hindu revolutionizes how we think about the history of Hinduism in American culture. Avoiding the usual anachronisms, essentialisms, and orientalisms, Altman analyzes an ever-shifting discourse fashioned from fragments and bearing many labels. He carefully documents the genealogies of those terms and shows to what ends they were put, from how they shaped American conceptions of religion itself to how Americans imagined their own religious identities."

Tricia Colleen Bruce, Parish and Place: Making Room for Diversity in the American Catholic Church (Oxford University Press)
From the publisher: "The Catholic Church stands at the forefront of an emergent majority-minority America. Parish and Place tells the story of how the largest religion in America is responding at the local level to unprecedented cultural, racial, linguistic, ideological, and political diversification among its membership."

Sally K. Gallagher, Getting to Church: Exploring Narratives of Gender and Joining (Oxford University Press)
Penny Edgell: "Sally Gallagher's thoughtful and well-researched analysis gives us new insight into how gender shapes the ways that people experience and enact religious commitment, and how they choose to join or to leave religious communities. This nuanced account takes into account a wide range of contemporary American religious communities and helps us to move beyond tired stereotypes about women's-and men's-religiosity."

Richard J. Janet, In Missouri’s Wilds: St. Mary’s of the Barrens and the American Catholic Church, 1818 to Present (Truman State University Press)
From the publisher: "In 1818, a small group of Catholic clerics established a religious community in southeastern Missouri and opened a school, grounded in its European Vincentian roots but influenced by the isolation of its rural location. St. Mary’s of the Barrens became the first American institution of higher learning west of the Mississippi River and only the fourth Catholic seminary in the United States....In this history of “the Barrens,” Rick Janet demonstrates how its story reflects the broader sweep of the American Catholic experience."

Lincoln A. Mullen, The Chance of Salvation: A History of Conversion in America (Harvard University Press) 
From the publisher: "The United States has a long history of religious pluralism, and yet Americans have often thought that people’s faith determines their eternal destinies. The result is that Americans switch religions more often than any other nation. The Chance of Salvation traces the history of the distinctively American idea that religion is a matter of individual choice. Lincoln Mullen shows how the willingness of Americans to change faiths, recorded in narratives that describe a wide variety of conversion experiences, created a shared assumption that religious identity is a decision."

Robert D. Benne, Keeping the Soul in Christian Higher Education: A History of Roanoke College (Eerdmans)
From the publisher: "Many colleges with historical church ties experience significant tension between the desire to compete in the secularized world of higher education and the desire to remain connected to their religious commitments and communities. In this history of one such school, Roanoke College, Robert Benne not only explores the school's 175-year tradition of educational excellence but also lays bare its complicated and ongoing relationship with its religious heritage."

Robert Wuthnow, American Misfits and the Making of Middle-Class Respectability (Princeton University Press)
Darren Dochuk: "This is an outstanding book—impressively researched, boldly argued with interdisciplinary breadth, and innovative in the way it depicts the middle-class American dream as perpetually fleeting and tenuous, marked off by day-to-day practices of the rank-and-file and prone to negotiation among those who seek to patrol the boundaries of belonging. It is also a riveting read, driven by rich description and detailed investigation of countless colorful characters who have tested those boundaries and found themselves held up as test cases of what America should and shouldn't look like, and who should and shouldn't be counted as respectable citizens."

Max Perry Mueller, Race and the Making of the Mormon People (University of North Carolina Press)
J. Spencer Fluhman: "Max Perry Mueller’s brilliant analysis substantively enriches a growing body of excellent work on Mormonism and race. His reading of the complicated texts and histories of the Latter-day Saints offers profound insight into both the tradition’s American sojourn and the nation’s wrenching engagement with race, writ large."


Christopher said…
Thanks, as always, Paul.

One note - Hardy's Doing the Works of Abraham was published a decade ago. This just looks like a paperback release.
Paul Putz said…
Great catch, thanks! Just removed it from the list.

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