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Publisher's Summary

Longlisted for the National Book Award for Nonfiction

This groundbreaking book 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 presidential election.

The evangelical movement began in the revivals of the 18th and 19th 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 19th century, white evangelicals split apart dramatically, first North versus South and then, at the end of the century, modernist versus fundamentalist. After World War II, Billy Graham, the revivalist preacher, attracted enormous crowds and tried to gather all Protestants under his big tent, but the civil rights movement and the social revolution of the '60s 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 35 years they were the sole voice of evangelicals to be heard nationally. Eventually a younger generation of leaders protested the Christian right's close ties with the Republican Party and proposed a broader agenda of issues, such as climate change, gender equality, and immigration reform.

Evangelicals have, in many ways, defined the nation. They have shaped our culture and our politics. Frances FitzGerald'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 25 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.

©2017 Frances FitzGerald (P)2017 Simon & Schuster Audio

Critic Reviews

"Massively learned and electrifying...magisterial." ( The Christian Science Monitor)
"A page turner.... 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)

What members say

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Amazing detail!

This book should be read be anyone curious about the marriage between Christianity and the republicans. It’s very accurate and reminded me of so many things I was raised to believe, and exposed how backwards and power hungry the religious right was. A great book a great read! So glad I listened to this!

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Great book

It should have won the National Book Award. It was a great analysis. I thought I knew a lot about this topic, but I learned a lot.

11 of 13 people found this review helpful

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Good book boring narration

The reader speaks in a slow monotone like he’s trying to put you in a hypnotic trance.

Good book but I would avoid anything by this narrator.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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An important story told with too many words

Fitzgerald has done an amazing amount of fact gathering and attention to detail. That has, however, distracted from the message of the origin, evolution and present state of the folks we call evangelicals. While co-mingling the religious and political worlds he did not make a clear case why so many would agitate & vote against core religious beliefs. The important summary was limited in the afterward in about one paragraph- that needed much more explication.
The spoken performance was about perfect- clear, well paced & free of mispronounced words- Roy needs to do more books.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Leaning too far to the left to be a fair history

The author presents the modernist’s argument against the fundamentalists like settled fact. The claim that Luther, Calvin and church history itself make no claim to inerrancy really tipped the scales for me. Fundamentalists didn’t just make up the idea of biblical inerrancy to combat liberalism. Even if you strongly disagree with fundamentalist views it is intellectually dishonest and unfair to make such a blanket dismissal of inerrancy. Especially since inerrancy, In my opinion, was the key issue of the whole controversy.

4 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Compelling, if a bit biased

A comprehensive, sometimes tedious but often fascinating history of the whole evangelical movement in one volume. (To be fair, I think "tedious" means hearing about people I'm not so interested in, like Ralph Reed; "fascinating" with people I was curious about, like Billy Graham and James Dobson.) It charts the movement from its Great Awakening beginnings through the election of Donald Trump, focusing on the major players along the way.

What struck me was the movement's continual emphasis on politics and the issues of the day, trying to force a heavenly society into being using worldly political, legislative means. Not surprisingly, it doesn't appear God has blessed such efforts even after 20+ years.

The author tells the story from the leftish point of view, minding PC buzzwords like "anti-abortion" to describe the pro-life community, and "pro-choice" for the anti-life abortion supporters. He tells of the Republican Senators who suddenly confessed to adulterous affairs during the Clinton impeachment, but he doesn't say why: Clinton had Larry Flynt on his side, who dug up the dirt on the Senators. As if to say, What about your own indiscretions?

The author also brought my attention to another book, this one by two former Christian Right leaders, "Blinded by Might." I'll be checking that one out next.

5 of 9 people found this review helpful

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Tradtionalism Vs. Fundamentalism

This book stands as a model of how to handle one of the most important issues in modern religion, traditionalism vs. fundamentalism. In a traditionalist model where there is no clear and present danger from any Enlightenment or secularism. In a traditional society, people might be fairly conservative in practice while caring little for ideology. Religion is the society in which they live. It is important but, like oxygen, easy to take for granted and ignore. To be a fundamentalist, you first have to be conscious that you are under attack. This makes people much less tolerant because all of a sudden even minor deviations become signs that a person has aligned with the "enemy."

A good example of this is the infamous Scopes trial regarding the teaching of evolution. Fitzgerald argues that the push to ban evolution from classrooms had little to do with people from Tennessee, where there were few actual "unbelievers" to threaten anyone. Rather, the attack on evolution came from northern fundamentalists, who were fighting a losing battle with the liberal wings within their own denominations, not just regarding evolution but over the authority of scripture itself.

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Historical look at fundamentalist, evangelicals, and the Christian Right

FitzGerald goes all the way back to the Great Awakening to trace the history of the Christian Right. If you want to know why Evangelicals vote Republican, and how they came to their beliefs, read this book. It is fascinating. A great insight into the political leanings of Christians in America.

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An eye-opening walk through evangelical history

The narrator is monotone and harder to listen to at some points, but the biography of evangelicalism was fascinating. Anyone who cares about the current situation and/or future of evangelicalism would benefit greatly from this thorough and journalistic look at the past.

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Magisterial

everything you ever wanted to know about the evangelicals in America from the earliest times to Donald Trump

0 of 1 people found this review helpful