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God's Long Summer: Stories of Faith and Civil Rights Paperback – March 2, 2008


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; 1.12.2008 edition (March 2, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691130671
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691130675
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #54,503 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Charles Marsh thinks historians who argue the civil rights movement was about rights have made a big mistake. In God's Long Summer: Stories of Faith and Civil Rights, he takes a different stance. He says the civil rights movement was about God. Marsh defends this controversial thesis with five profiles of civil rights leaders (ranging from cotton fieldworker and political activist Fannie Lou Hamer to the Imperial Wizard of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan of Mississippi, Sam Bowers), each of whom understood their work in fundamentally theological terms. Marsh's fluid, engaging prose aims to persuade readers that the ongoing fight for civil rights is best understood in spiritual terms and to arm believers with a clear understanding of the ultimate stakes of this country's continuing struggle with racism. --Michael Joseph Gross --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Theology professor Marsh (Reclaiming Dietrich Bonhoeffer: The Promise of His Theology, Oxford Univ., 1994) argues that both the 1960s Civil Rights Movement and its Southern adversaries derived their power from religious ideas. Recounting the stories of five active participants?some militant, some nonviolent, but each with an eloquent apologia for either racial segregation or integration?he relates their ideological commitments to their religious beliefs. The history and internal politics of the Civil Rights Movement and of the groups defending white-controlled segregation come alive in these detail-filled narratives, but ironically Marsh's finely wrought discussion of theology in each story is the weakest part of the book; it is sometimes hard to follow, and it often obscures rather than illuminates the historic struggles Marsh so effectively describes. Even if readers may not understand the cohesion of the religious beliefs depicted here, they will be left with an indelible impression of five committed individuals (including Fannie Lou Hamer) who knew what they believed in, acted on their beliefs, and made history.?Jack Forman, Mesa Coll. Lib., San Diego
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Charles Marsh is the Commonwealth Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia and director of the Project on Lived Theology. He was born in Mobile, Alabama and educated at Gordon College, Harvard University and the University of Virginia. He has served as the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Visiting Professor at Humboldt University, Berlin, and was a 2010 Guggenheim Fellow in the Creative Arts. Among his numerous books is "God's Long Summer: Stories of Faith and Civil Rights", which won the 1998 Grawemeyer Award in Religion. His most recent book, "Strange Glory: A Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer" was published on May 1, 2014 by Knopf/Random House.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on May 6, 2005
Format: Paperback
There's a lot of in-bickering within the intellectual community as to the primary motivation for any particular event. People who have majored in political science will argue that politics is always the key. People who have majored in sociology will argue that it's social change that's the key. People, like myself, who have majored in religion will always seem to find that religion is the key.

Perhaps that's why I like this book so much.

Marsh undertakes an exhaustive study of various figures in the struggle for (and against) Civil Rights. Perhaps my favorite chapter is actually the one about the Grand Imperial Wizard of the White Knights in Mississippi, Sam Bowers. It's rare to see much study devoted to the opposition and I value the effort that Marsh has put into it. Furthermore, the man is note-crazed. He has upwards of 100 footnotes for each chapter, all indexed in the back with killing accuracy. If nothing else, the bibliography he employed is fantastic enough to warrant buying the book.

I can understand, though, how people who are not students of religion would be turned off by this work. He argues the point until he's blue in the face, leaving the reader possibly a bit shocked and overwhelmed. Reading this, you're guaranteed to learn more about Bible doctrine and faith-based initiative than you perhaps ever really wanted to know. I love it, but I can certainly understand how others may not.

I strongly suggest this book for students of religion and students of Civil Rights history. I also recommend it for those who wonder "what the other side thinks" if they are curious about how religious scholars attribute everything to faith. It's a really great book and I love Marsh's clean and thorough style of writing. It's uncluttered and his organization is brilliant.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 14, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Marsh's book is a truly poignant view of real Southern people during the civil rights movement. He is able to capture each of the five individual's quite different understandings of God and His actual place in their lives during this time of great struggle. Marsh takes you on a journey of different Christian imaginations as he examines the beliefs of an outstanding woman fighting for her rights as a black woman, an ex-headmaster of the Ku Klux Klan, a black militant leader, a middle-of-the-road preacher, and a white minister who managed to "cross-over" racial lines and fight for freedom. These are wonderful and heartfelt stories being presented by Marsh, and must be read by anyone who has lived through the time of the civil rights movement.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 25, 2003
Format: Paperback
Highly recommended account of the role of "faith" in the lives of five prominent figures in Mississippi during the civil rights movement. Saints (Fannie Lou Hamer, Edwin King, Cleveland Sellers) and sinners (Sam Bowers and Douglas Hudgins) are both represented. Hudgins and other Jackson elites come off nearly as loathsome as Bowers. Marsh's prose is brilliant, providing for a lively and inspiring read.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 11, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Marsh clearly has his saints and his villains, but anyone with a scintilla of compassion who lived through the age would be hard-pressed to disagree with his judgments. He brings his subjects to life and dissects their Christianity (or their perversion of it). When you finish the book you will be all the happier for the vindication of Fannie Lou Hamer and all the more repulsed by the enduring power of cowardly and hypocritical clergymen.
One cavil: For a book published by a school as distinguished as Princeton University, it has an alarming number of typographical errors.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Gina Pollard on January 4, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This was a gift to my mother and she loved it, so it was worth the purchase. She had lost her previous book so I was glad this was available on Amazon
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By bookmonster on March 3, 2010
Format: Paperback
Charles Marsh brings a fresh perspective to the Civil Rights movement. As well as thoroughly exploring the Christian language and symbolism used by African Americans in fighting for desegregation, Marsh offers Christian language and symbolism used by white Americans fighting for segregation. This book is essential to understanding the Civil Rights movement from both perspectives.
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