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Book Review

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Social Sciences and Missions


As I write, the city of Dayton is digging out from the devastating impact of fifteen tornadoes – four of which carried winds of 150-200 mph -- that struck the city and its environs on Memorial Day night. The American Red Cross (ARC) is spearheading community relief efforts, which, on the face of it, is no great surprise. But in Holy Humanitarians Heather Curtis makes clear that not only did the ARC (founded in 1881) not enjoy benevolence presumption in the first few decades of its existence, its fiercest competitor was the evangelical periodical, the Christian Herald.

In this compelling book, Curtis tells a remarkable and all-but-forgotten story. Louis Klopsch and Thomas DeWitt Talmage bought the magazine in 1890 (a typographical error on p. 7 suggests it was purchased a decade later) and – following the example of the New York Herald and other periodicals – turned it into a “channel of benevolence” for suffering peoples. But it was an evangelical channel, and thus requests for contributions referred to biblical admonitions to care for “the least of these” while also playing on hopes that America was the redeemer nation that could save the world and help usher in the millennium. More than this, the Christian Herald made great use of vivid language and graphic (even gruesome) images to convey the horrific suffering that evangelical donors could help alleviate.

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The document available for download is the author's submitted manuscript, provided in compliance with the publisher's policy on self-archiving. Permission documentation is on file.

Citation information for the book reviewed: Heather D. Curtis, Holy Humanitarians: American Evangelicals and Global Aid. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2018







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