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From Bible Belt to Sunbelt: Plain-Folk Religion, Grassroots Politics, and the Rise of Evangelical Conservatism Hardcover – December 13, 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 520 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (December 13, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393066827
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393066821
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.5 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #399,480 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"An exhaustive history brimming with lively characters."
--Amy Sullivan, Time

"Detailed and closely argued.... Dochuk...well understands the pivotal role religion plays in shaping America's cultural self-image, and...breaks with a long tradition of historical writing that has monolithically depicted evangelical believers as backward-looking prophets of cultural reaction."
--Chris Lehmann, The Nation

"[Dochuk] skillfully traces a continuous narrative stretching from the Dust Bowl to Ronald Reagan, and demonstrates with prodigious research how this narrative fits into a much broader canvas of...political change. A superbly researched study of grassroots mobilization.... An important book."
--Mark A. Noll, The New Republic

"Very impressive.... From Bible Belt to Sunbelt is the product of prodigious research."
--Randall Balmer, Christian Century

"Dochuk excels in his profiles of early 'plain-folk' settlers and their world, and the tangled personal, institutional, and doctrinal motives of the ministry that served them.... [A] fascinating portrait of the early Christian Right."
--Ed Kilgore, Washington Monthly

“The nation is today color-coded into red and blue. In this tour de force of research, narrative, and analysis, a brilliant young historian chronicles how Southern California served as the matrix for this enduring bifurcation. Beneath the sunshine and the palm trees, uprooted evangelicals experienced a Great Awakening that transformed American politics in our era.” (Kevin Starr, University of Southern California)

“Darren Dochuk's fortunate readers are in for some surprises as well as for enlightenment. The story of the Dust Bowl and the migration to southern California during the Great Depression, usually told through the left-wing tale of Tom Joad, turns out to be prologue to the rise of a vital segment of the modern Christian Right. From Bible Belt to Sunbelt is an essential contribution to our growing understanding of the origins and development of contemporary American conservatism.” (Sean Wilentz, author of The Rise of American Democracy)

“With narrative authority and sparkling insight, Darren Dochuk explains how and why Southern California became the crucible of the Christian Right. Anyone who wants to understand the history of modern American conservatism should read this book.” (Michael Kazin, author of A Godly Hero: The Life of William Jennings Bryan)

“Darren Dochuk has painted a vista from which unfolds the creation of Reagan’s nation, as the California dreams of Southern evangelicals become the American dreams of Sunbelt conservatives. Through the guiding telescope of Dochuk’s prose, we meet a fascinating cast of characters destined to be staples in future tellings of this important story. This much anticipated book is well worth the wait.” (Steven P. Miller, author of Billy Graham and the Rise of the Republican South)

About the Author

Darren Dochuk is Associate Professor in the Humanities at the John C. Danforth Center on Religion & Politics at Washington University in St. Louis. His writing has appeared in the Washington Post, Huffington Post, and other venues.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By john the book guy on June 30, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book looks at the rise of conservatism in Southern California, as the working class migrants of the 1930s became middle class Californians in the 1940s, 1950s and after. The question of how this transformation took place has been addressed by many historians, who have found many subtly different explanations for this change (the bibliography on the issue is quite large).

Mr. Dekok focuses on the change and finds a major explanation for it in the transformations in evangelical Christianity in Southern California from the 1930s to 1980.

The migrants he discusses are the people from the western south (Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana & thereabouts) who settled in the Los Angeles area. They had much more opportunity to find work there than the perhaps more famous Dust Bowl refugees who ended up as migrant farmworkers, a group that Americans will associate with the Joads of John Steinbeck's novel "The Grapes of Wrath."

As the title suggests, it traces the transformation of "plain-folk" evangelical Protestantism, whose followers were accepting of the New Deal, to a form of evangelical Protestantism whose followers supported the USA's military buildup after World War II, an aggressive Cold War stance, a very free-market form of capitalism, and conservative moral values.

The author makes fascinating observations, which had never occurred to me, about just how many southern people were settled in Southern California in this period -- the number of southern-born people in the environs of Los Angeles actually exceeded the population of some southern states. The largest percentage of these folks were white, which of course has an influence on their history.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Kathleen Baldock on May 2, 2011
Format: Hardcover
GREAT history with characters beyond the usual suspects in Evangelicalism. Dochuk does a wonderful job presenting the facts and letting the reader come to conclusions. I am Evangelical and registered Republican and a westerner. I feel as though what I should think both in terms of my theology and my politics have been manipulated by the few. I see the effects of the designed plan in both the church and the political arena today. I am not pleased.
Evangelicals became more about politics than we ever should have. I thought we were taught that all we do is to glorify Jesus. I saw way too much man and ego in this mix of my history. It makes me feel "dirty".
i am breaking about from the cloning lab created for me and now I do feel,it was purposefully created.
A great read with incredible depth. It was/is not all Robertson and Falwell. But now, it is way more me and God and not those gents and me.
Nice job Dochuk.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Trev on March 19, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For anyone interested in the evolution of party ideological development in relation to religion and secular development in contemporary society, this book is a must read.

Furthermore, for anyone puzzled as to how party ideological conflicts have led to the polarization and government paralysis we live with today, this book will be illuminating.

Based on facts and scholarship rather than assertions and opinions, this book provides a useful antidote to those seeking to understand the evolution of religion on American politics today.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Daphne Faulkner on February 10, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The most important observation I had in reading this book was seeing religious viewpoints change with time and cultural traditions. Most interesting was observing how attitudes toward money change as religious leaders gain power and success.
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