*April 6th Update. Simon and Schuster is sending this our way but I’ve read from a couple of respected folks like Randall Balmer that this volume has some serious flaws. That’s especially disappointing given how solid FitzGerald’s work has been in the past. Check out Balmer’s critical review over at Christian Century: https://www.christiancentury.org/review/reading-evangelical-history-one-eye-closed
There’s a big new book on evangelicalism coming out on Tuesday that I wish I had time to stop life for and read right away, but which I hope to get to soon. It’s titled The Evangelicals: The Struggle to Shape America and it’s written by Francis FitzGerald, published by Simon & Schuster. The thing is a monster, clocking in at 740 pp.
It was featured on the front page of the NYT Book Review this Sunday with the arresting image of Billy Graham shown above. Click here to read the review. Alan Wolf, a former director of the Bosi Center for Religion and Public Life at Boston College reviewed the new book and said that it’s a “page turner” which for long works of nonfiction is high praise, apparently. “We have long needed a fair-minded overview of this vitally important religious sensibility, and Fitzgerald has now provided it,” he says. He’s pretty derisive of evangelical history and of evangelicals’ mission to shape statecraft. One gets the sense that he would be more than happy if the book served as a bookend to the movement’s demise. One major question dominates the work, Wolf says. “Why should the faithful try to shape America at all?”
Understanding evangelicalism is a must if one wants to have any comprehension of Christianity and the current political scene in America. Hence, the importance of this new work.