From Publishers Weekly
The "new" in the title of this gorgeous, informative atlas suggests the book's position as its own successor; in 1962, church historian Gaustad released the meticulously researched Historical Atlas of Religion in America, which has served ever since as the best resource of its kind. This significantly revised version (whose statistical base takes readers at least up to 1990, and sometimes as late as 1998) delights not only in its 260 full-color maps and 200 graphs, tables and charts, but also in the mellifluous text co-written by Gaustad and Barlow, a theology professor at Hanover College. Each religious group receives extensive treatment, with heightened emphasis on religious newcomers such as Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, Buddhists and Muslims; the sections on Native American and African-American religious traditions have also been significantly expanded. The authors note that a picture is worth a thousand words only "sometimes," and take painstaking care to ensure that the maps and charts contained herein illustrate the complexities of religious change over time. Thus alongside a graph showing a meteoric rise in the numbers of Baha'is in America since 1970, the authors point to other charts demonstrating the numeric decline of traditional religions in the same period and postulate that "people often look to alternative religious expressions when more traditional options are languishing." Special maps elucidate denominational predominance be region, the religious affiliations of members of Congress and the proliferation of religious place names, among many other considerations. This eminently useful, visually stunning atlas speaks eloquently of America's history of religious faith. (Jan.) Forecast: This book was one of the most talked-about forthcoming titles at last month's American Academy of Religion annual meeting in Nashville. It will enjoy significant sales in the library market, of course, but also has potential among individual scholars and clergy, to whom Oxford has been offering a discounted promotional price.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
How do you improve upon a classic? This book, which gave scholars a visualization of religions in America as they spread, clustered, shrank, and calcified in certain geographical areas, was a wondrous new tool when it first appeared in 1976--owing partly to the novel representation of information that had previously been relegated to narrative. The strength of the new edition lies primarily in advanced technology: the maps detailing the locations of various religious communities are brighter and clearer because of digitization. In terms of content, however, much was already said in the first incarnation. Details have been added on the decline of the mainstream Protestant denominations, the rise of the Pentacostals and Evangelical Christians, and the modest influence of Buddhism, Islam, and Hinduism, but these are small additions that--while excellent for remaining up-to-date--do not necessarily justify purchasing a costly new volume. Libraries with the previous edition (now out of print) should purchase only if the older edition has received considerable usage. Otherwise, this revised edition is strongly recommended and can be considered indispensable for theological and academic libraries.
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Glenn Masuchika, Rockwell Collins Information Ctr., Cedar Rapids, IA.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.