History Faculty Publications

Document Type

Book Review

Publication Date

Fall 2004

Publication Source

Journal of Church and State


Anyone who has taught a course in U.S. religious history knows the daunting challenge of adequately dealing with the riotous diversity of religion in America. This challenge moves from daunting to nearly overwhelming when one gets to the years after World War II. But now comes along Patrick Allitt, professor of history at Emory University, who, in Religion in America Since 1945, has managed to create out of this apparent chaos a lucid, compelling narrative of recent U.S. religious history.

Of course, and as Allitt observes in his introduction, in order to “prevent the book from taking the form of a mere list or set of encyclopedia entries” he is forced to give only passing attention to “vast areas of American religious history” (p. xiii). Readers will be thankful that the author chose to be selective, as the result is a coherent, graceful account.

It thus may be the worst sort of academic quibbling to suggest that the book could have benefited from more attention to mainline Protestantism (how the writing of American religious history has changed!), peace churches, and Native religion. But it is not quibbling to lament that there is almost nothing here on Pentecostalism and the charismatic movement (the latter does not even appear in the index), given that, as Grant Wacker and others have made clear, this may be the most important religious movement of the twentieth century.

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The document available for download is a pre-copyedited, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in the Journal of Church and State following peer review. It is provided in compliance with the publisher's policy on self-archiving. Permission documentation is on file. The version of record is available using the DOI provided.

Citation information for the book reviewed: Religion in America Since 1945: A History. By Patrick Allitt. New York: Columbia University Press, 2003.


Oxford University Press





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