From Library Journal
These are the first of Oxford's new 17-volume "Religion in American Life" series, aimed primarily at young adults but of value to older students as well. Three of the volumes will treat the topic chronologically, nine will consider the various religious traditions, four will be topical, and the last volume will be a biographical supplement and series index. Jon Butler (American studies and religion, Yale) and Henry S. Stout (American Christianity, Yale) serve as series editors. The books offer serious treatments of the subjects at hand in a way that makes them attractive for popular reading by combining text, photographs, and original documents. In a balanced account, Gaustad (history, emeritus, Univ. of California, Riverside) treats the (often contentious) role of religion in Colonial America and examines the significant Supreme Court cases that have helped define the place of religion with regard to the state. Claudia Bushman (American studies, Columbia) and Richard Bushman (history, Columbia)?both practicing Mormons?offer a clear, concise, and unbiased account of Mormon history, especially as it relates to the issue of church and state. They are honest about the number of disaffected Mormons and examine problems within Mormon history, such as the relationship with Native Americans. This series, written in a style that would be accessible to bright high-schoolers, promises to be an excellent supplement to textbooks that too often downplay the central role religon has played in American history.?Augustine J. Curley, O.S.B., Newark Abbey, NJ
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Gr. 7^-10. Part of the Religion in American Life series, this volume focuses on the history, practices, and doctrines of one of the fastest-growing religions in the world, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, more commonly known as the Mormons. The authors offer a well-rounded treatment that not only presents readers with the facts but also deals with questions that naturally arise from a religion that has its origins in the discovery of mysterious golden plates. For instance, how could Joseph Smith, an uneducated young farmer, translate from these plates an epic like the Book of Mormon? While emphasizing the strengths of Mormonism, the book also looks carefully at some of the controversies that have surrounded it, such as originally allowing polygamy, the longtime reluctance to confer priesthood on blacks, and the pressure the region's high standards puts on members. Particularly interesting is the chapter on the role of women in the church, who are viewed in some circles as submissive to their husbands; this book shows them as strong and enterprising. A solid resource for libraries. Illustrated with historical material and black-and-white photos. Time line and bibliography appended. Ilene Cooper