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America's Religions: From Their Origins to the Twenty-first Century Paperback – August 29, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-0252075513 ISBN-10: 025207551X Edition: 3rd

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 704 pages
  • Publisher: University of Illinois Press; 3rd edition (August 29, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 025207551X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0252075513
  • Product Dimensions: 9.8 x 7.1 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #555,217 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Over the past decade, scholars of American religion have undergone a crisis of narrative. Recognizing that earlier generations of historians have focused their work too narrowly on the experiences of white, male, middle-class Protestants, they have struggled to find a means of representing the incredible variety of spiritual expression that has always existed throughout an ever-diverse population. The solution offered here by Williams, a professor at Miami University (Ohio) and the editor of The Encyclopedia of the American Religious Experience, is to abandon narrative altogether. The result, regrettably, is not altogether satisfactory. This volume is astounding in its breadth; 11 of its 55 chapters offer cursory surveys of the major religious traditions. The remaining chapters digest the progress, since 1492, of dozens of spiritual movements and hundreds of religious leaders across a wide spectrum of ethnic and regional identity. However, Williams's resolute dedication to pluralism comes at the expense of both coherence and balance he devotes almost as much space to Victorian Anglicanism as he does to the Second Great Awakening. Although Williams intends this as a college textbook, he takes pains to italicize and define even such familiar terms as "pope," and offers too many simplistic generalizations. His methodological framework, built on the assumption that each group has its own distinct tradition, prevents him from examining crucial processes of cultural contact and exchange. The final product resembles more a collection of brief, loosely related essays than a mature work of synthetic analysis.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Intended as a textbook for beginning students interested in religion in the United States, this volume reads like a catalog lacking thematic or interpretive unity. Williams (religion and American studies, Miami Univ., Ohio), whose book was originally published by Macmillan in 1989 and republished by the University of Illinois in 1998 as America's Religions: Traditions and Cultures, offers a newly revised edition that adds some 60 pages, owing largely to an expanded and comprehensive bibliography of 56 pages. As the bibliography demonstrates, the revisions are intended to increase coverage of African American, Native American, Jewish, Islamic, and Asian traditions. Nevertheless, Williams, who studied under the late Sydney E. Ahlstrom at Yale University and wrote the highly respected A Religious History of the American People, makes no effort to hide his preference for the Lutheran tradition and hence greatly reduces the value of his book for readers with other religious convictions. As with other books of this ilk, the white Anglo-Saxon Protestant tradition receives the bulk of his attention; the Library of Congress correctly catalogs this book under religious thought rather than American religious history. The book ends with the curious statement that although the content of religion in the United States changes, the process of religion doesn't. Those who feel that we are currently in the midst of a religious cultural war might disagree. Recommended for large academic libraries. James A. Overbeck, Atlanta-Fulton P.L., GA
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on April 11, 2002
Format: Paperback
America's Religions: From Their Origins To The Twenty-First Century by Peter W. Williams (Distinguished Professor of Comparative Religions and American Studies, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio) is a massive, comprehensive, meticulous study of the religious movements that have shaped the United States and ranges from Native American religions and early European colonization era communities of faith to the religious modernism and pluralism of the twentieth century. Divided into fifty-five chapters, the scholarly narrative path traces a long road across centuries of human belief. America's Religions is a fascinating read and a sweeping historical analysis which is very highly recommended for History Of Religion supplemental reading lists and reference collections.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Luke on May 25, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I had to get this book for my REL 320 class and the first few weeks of reading in it I was bored with it, but as the class progressed I saw how great this book was written. The author Williams was really able to give information about the religions from a mostly unbiased view point, and not to mention in a rather easy to read style. Key terms are italicized, and usually have a short definition in parenthesis following the word.
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By Larry Burden on July 25, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It is the text for the American Religions course at the College of Wooster. It appears to be the definitive work on the subject. Easy to peruse, great contents; It makes a excellent gift for people interested in American religions and cultures.
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This textbook is extremely thorough. It covers just about every major or minor religion in America. Do note, this book is massive and as such takes some time to get through. I used this book for a class on religion. This book was extremely helpful and helped get me through some aspects of the class. I would even go so far as to recommend this book as a leisurely read, just because of the breadth of the information. Besides, I feel that after going through this book, many of these facts and figures should be common knowledge before we start hating on or making prejudgments about a certain religion. This book helps to answer the facts and fiction before the long winding road to ignorance. Anyway, thanks for reading this review, and I hope you enjoy reading the book. Please don't allow my opinion to get too personal it is about the book, not your political views. Thanks again and wish you all the best.
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