The Shooting Salvationist chronicles what may be the most famous story you have never heard. In the 1920's, the Reverend J. Frank Norris railed against vice and conspiracies he saw everywhere to a congregation of more than 10,000 at First Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas, the largest congregation in America, the first "megachurch". Norris controlled a radio station, a tabloid newspaper and a valuable tract of land in downtown Fort Worth. Constantly at odds with the oil boomtown's civic leaders, he aggressively defended his activism, observing, “John the Baptist was into politics.”
Following the death of William Jennings Bryan, Norris was a national figure poised to become the leading fundamentalist in America. This changed, however, in a moment of violence one sweltering Saturday in July when he shot and killed an unarmed man in his church office. Norris was indicted for murder and, if convicted, would be executed in the state of Texas' electric chair.
At a time when newspaper wire services and national retailers were unifying American popular culture as never before, Norris' murder trial was front page news from coast to coast. Set during the Jazz Age, when Prohibition was the law of the land, The Shooting Salvationist leads to a courtroom drama pitting some of the most powerful lawyers of the era against each other with the life of a wildly popular, and equally loathed, religious leader hanging in the balance.
©2011 David R. Stokes (P)2011 David R. Stokes
"This excellent book chronicles [a] court case that captivated the nation - even if it's barely remembered today - and makes its central player, Norris, as compelling and multilayered as any charcter from fiction.... The book is engagingly written, in an immediate, you-are-there style, and the story is as compelling and surprising as any Grisham thriller. Top of the line." (Booklist)
“Readers will enjoy this oversize tale—a snapshot of a fascinating time in American and Texas history—that reads like fiction. It will appeal to those interested in true crime, the history of fundamentalism, and the early days of Texas” (Library Journal)
"Through rich and compelling narrative, a sharp eye for the quirky as well as the profound, rigorous research, and a commanding sense of the big picture, Stokes offers his reader a rare, exhilarating look at this notorious individual. In the process, he opens up fresh ways of understanding the local culture that vaulted Norris and his Texas-style fundamentalism onto a national stage." (Darren Dochuk, author of From Bible Belt to Sunbelt: Plain-folk Religion, Grassroots Politics, and the Rise of Evangelical Conservatism)
The religious history of this period in the southern U.S. was very interesting. Both the author and the reader presented the story in a suspenseful way, and because there was so much detail in the story, even if you already know the history of the religious 'battles' in the early 20th century, you will still be engrossed.
No extreme reactions. The book was very informative and very captivating. Good read.
The story itself. I believe it's dubbed as the most interesting true story you've never heard. You got that right.
I am not used to hearing a Non-fiction book 'acted' out.
He put voices to everyone involved in the case, outside of the case, even those unnamed that had a random quote here and there. It definitely helped bring the people, Ft. Worth, and era back to life. Especially Rev. J. Frank Norris.
Out of curiosity I found some old audio of a few of his sermons to see if Mr. Bray was even close - turns out... he was almost spot on. The delivery of the sermons especially. Firey and passionate. It was hard not to feel like I was in the pews!!
Very well done
This was absolutely great. I'm a fan of the shows they put up on A&E and Bio and am always enthralled when a 'new' old story rears its head. (I actually saw the author speak of the book on Book TV before or just after its release). The Shooting Salvationist is one of the most interesting ones I've come across in a long time. Thanks so much to Rev. David R. Stokes for his obvious passion for this part of American history and for his incredible research to bring it to light for the rest of us.
A fun way to learn about fundamentalism and old Ft. Worth.
Reenactments of Norris' preaching was great.
He captured the full range of personalities.
The way Norris by his church was moving.
The story of J. Frank Norris and his paranoia was so compelling that I found myself researching on the internet for more information. The narrator's voices for the various characters added much to the story, particularly his very accurate interpretation of Norris.
I remember the name of J. Frank Norris from a Baptist history course, but it was not a figure that was dwelt on for long. I found this to be a very intriguing book that has a lot to teach us today. Norris had a rare combination of passion, charisma, and zeal that helped him rise to prominence. I think what this book can primarily teach us is that any pastor should find himself with a large flock should have a system of accountability so that his ego does not go unchecked.
I also thought Norris's making of conspiracy theories in order to rally his congregation had much relevance.
I would recommend this book both for its historical value as well as for the fact that it is a very thrilling story.
Interesting story about the seductions of power, smallish town politics, and the earliest days of broadcast religion.
I might try another book from David R. Stokes, but not by R. C. Bray. Too many ridiculous voices.
I would have selected a different narrator, or told this narrator to turn it down a notch with his caricatures...oops, I mean characterizations of the people in the story.
I don't know, but l not R. C. Bray.
It is a factual story, so none of them.
The audio quality could have been better. The volume level would go up and down, especially when the narrator switched to one of his ridiculous and unnecessary voices. Also, the book seemed biased against Norris, and seemed surprised that the defense legal counsel would have the gall to actually defend their client. So strange.
I am a native of the area of Texas highlighted in the book, and I've been fascinated by the historical details given in this book aside from the deeply interesting story of J. Frank Norris. The author does a great job of keeping your interest while outlining the background for each facet of the story. The narrator is impressive with his different voices--however, I don't think he's actually understood the difference between a southern accent and a Texas accent. He makes the guys sound like southern gentlemen instead of rednecks! I highly recommend the book. It's a great listen.
Very interesting history and entertaining listen.
For better or worse the basic story is not at all dated. The self-promoting genius possessed by Dr. J. Frank Norris would still play quite well to those of us who remain eager to see the conspiratorial plots being launched by the supposed bogeymen of the age. Maybe Dr. Norris would have difficulty finding an audience for his rants against "Romanists" (Catholics) today, but I am sure he would be more than willing to serve up bowel of hate aimed at more modern scapegoats. The too close for comfort similarity of the protagonist to the fear-mongering firebrands of the intervening history has no doubt contributed to this story being buried by time.
Found the book to be very interesting. Read well and written well, with many details. Historical stories are my favorite, and this one did not disappoint. I highly recommend it!
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