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Holy Hills of the Ozarks: Religion and Tourism in Branson, Missouri (Lived Religions) Hardcover – August 15, 2007

ISBN-13: 978-0801886607 ISBN-10: 0801886600 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Series: Lived Religions
  • Hardcover: 344 pages
  • Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press; 1 edition (August 15, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801886600
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801886607
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #455,607 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Fascinating. There is no work that approaches the remarkable history of Branson in such complex fashion. Ketchell weaves together engaging analysis of The Shepherd of the Hills, the music business, and hillbilly lore and culture with interpretation of built environment and observations on the national mood. Holy Hills is rich with insights into the world of 'family-values,' Christians in America, and the commercial aspects of American Protestantism, regional distinctiveness, and the trajectories of literary influence.

(John Corrigan, Florida State University)

A fascinating, fair-minded assessment of a unique American subculture.

(Choice 1900-01-00)

As Ketchell brilliantly argues, Branson entrepreneurs wove Christian sentiment 'into a fabric of nostalgia, premodern longing, and whitewashed rusticity.'

(Matthew Avery Sutton Christian Century 1900-01-00)

Thoroughly researched and carefully documented... includes a great deal of material that challenges basic assumptions in the scholarly study of religions. Ketchell confronts readers with the implications of a popular tourist destination founded on the values and sentiments of American evangelical Protestantism.

(Thomas S. Bremer Journal of the American Academy of Religion 1900-01-00)

A sophisticated interdisciplinary study... Ketchell squarely tackles this important and complex story with sensitivity and skill.

(Tona J. Hangen Journal of American History 1900-01-00)

Punctuated with moments of humor... Ketchell's treatment is fair, including his description of organized religion's distaste for Branson's 'alternative worship opportunities'... well illustrated with reproductions of historical cards, photographs, and advertisements.

(Stanley M. Burgess Religious Studies Review 1900-01-00)

This is one of those books that seems to deal with a fairly minor topic but is in fact quite important... At a time when Jim Wallis and other observers have forecast the end of the prominence of right-wing-religion on the U.S. political stage, this book will cause many readers to question that prediction.

(David Stricklin Journal of Southern History 1900-01-00)

The vivid written descriptions as well as photographs, thorough historical documentation, and a keen eye for cultural landscape formation make this book an excellent piece for geographic education and a great starter for discussion of the essence of Missouri heritage.

(Larry G. Brown Missouri Historical Review 1900-01-00)

Holy Hills of the Ozarks is a delightful case study of popular religious practice in America. It should find a broad audience. Ambitious in scope, Ketchell has written a thought provoking work.

(Chad E. Seales Pneuma: Journal of the Society for Pentecostal Studies 2009-01-00)

Holy Hills of the Ozarks provides the colorful story of how this tiny town on the Missouri-Arkansas border became host to the spectacular example of religious tourism (and tourism as religion).

(Kathryn Lofton Journal of Religion 1900-01-00)

About the Author

Aaron K. Ketchell, who writes on American popular religion, teaches at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
As a resident of Branson for 40 years and a small contributor to Author Ketchell's book, I certainly have an interest in the topics of this story. The subject of religion - values, Christianity, church, God, and families are ever present in Branson. We make no apology for that. I believe the historical view, though, adds context to the fascinating story of Branson's tourism success. As a small community of 7500 residents, opening our doors yearly to 8 million visitors from across the US and world, we continue to find that our measure of wholesome family entertainment appeals to a significant audience. Part look back and part questioning the future of Branson, Mr. Ketchell has captured the push and pull of our small world here in Branson, which also mirrors the issue across the U.S. I would recommend this book if you are interested in tourism and the religious market, or just a fan of Branson.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By KCreader on March 14, 2010
Format: Hardcover
The author traces the origins of religious tourism in the Ozarks of southern Missouri/northern Arkansas. He begins by examining the long-lasting influence of Harold Bell Wright's 1907 book The Shepherd of the Hills on area tourism. He goes on to explore the evolution and Protestant evangelical underpinnings of tourist sites such as Marvel Cave, Silver Dollar City theme park, and Branson concert venues. The book reads like the doctoral dissertation it originally was, but by skimming the academese the cultural history enthusiast can still enjoy learning about the origins of tourism in this distinctive region.
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