The Struggle to Shape America
* Winner of the 2017 National Book Critics Circle Award
* National Book Award Finalist
* Time magazine Top 10 Nonfiction Book of the Year
* New York Times Notable Book
* Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2017
This “epic history” (The Boston Globe) from Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Frances FitzGerald is the first to tell the powerful, dramatic story of the Evangelical movement in America—from the Puritan era to the 2016 election. “We have long needed a fair-minded overview of this vitally important religious sensibility, and FitzGerald has now provided it” (The New York Times Book Review).
The evangelical movement began in the revivals of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, known in America as the Great Awakenings. A populist rebellion against the established churches, it became the dominant religious force in the country.
During the nineteenth century white evangelicals split apart, first North versus South, and then, modernist versus fundamentalist. After World War II, Billy Graham attracted enormous crowds and tried to gather all Protestants under his big tent, but the civil rights movement and the social revolution of the sixties drove them apart again. By the 1980s Jerry Falwell and other southern televangelists, such as Pat Robertson, had formed the Christian right. Protesting abortion and gay rights, they led the South into the Republican Party, and for thirty-five years they were the sole voice of evangelicals to be heard nationally. Eventually a younger generation proposed a broader agenda of issues, such as climate change, gender equality, and immigration reform.
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. “A well-written, thought-provoking, and deeply researched history that is impressive for its scope and level of detail” (The Wall Street Journal). Her “brilliant book could not have been more timely, more well-researched, more well-written, or more necessary” (The American Scholar).
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
With a historian’s eye for detail and a journalist’s keen nose for discovery, Pulitzer Prize winner Frances FitzGerald presents a riveting, evenhanded account of the evolution of the white evangelical movement. Spanning from the Great Awakening of the 1700s to the aftermath of the 2016 election, The Evangelicals reflects on evangelicalism’s anti-intellectual roots and paints vivid portraits of colorful figures like Oral Roberts, Tammy Faye Bakker, and Jerry Falwell. FitzGerald charts the movement’s waxing and waning influence, with particular focus on the last 40 years, when evangelicals shifted from doctrinal interests to influencing culture and politics. It’s essential reading for anyone who wants to understand how this distinctly American movement became today’s Christian right.
Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and historian FitzGerald (Fire in the Lake) provides a compelling narrative history of "the white evangelical movements necessary to understand the Christian right and its evangelical opponents." Dispatching pre-20th-century events in the first three chapters, and the period from 1900 to 1945 in just two more, FitzGerald focuses most closely on evangelical culture and politics from the rise of Billy Graham through the Obama presidency. She skillfully introduces readers to the terminology, key debates, watershed events, and personalities that have populated the history of white American evangelical Protestant culture in the last half-century. She explains issues such as fundamentalism, biblical inerrancy, Christian nationalism, civil religion and anticommunism, the charismatic movement, and abortion, and introduces such diverse figures as Karl Barth, Jerry Falwell, Reinhold Niebuhr, and Pat Robertson. Also present, though less prominently featured, are members of the evangelical left, such as Ron Sider and James Wallis. Attention to intraevangelical theological and political differences is especially welcome at a time when evangelical and even Christian have become stand-ins for the Christian right. A substantial bibliography and endnotes will assist readers who wish to delve more deeply into specific topics. This is a timely and accessible contribution to the rapidly growing body of literature on Christianity in modern America.
Excellent, detailed history
Well-written, thought-provoking book to help understand contemporary evangelism and American history. Worthy of your time for sure.
Failing New York Times salutes this biased, broken OPINION of a book?
This is not historical journalism - it's inaccurate criticisms of evangelicals.
Miss Fitzgerald should have stuck to Vietnams History, because this book is filled with error. I would hate for anyone to read it and think she really knows what she's talking about. Sad