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Sarah Osborn's World: The Rise of Evangelical Christianity in Early America (New Directions in Narrative History) Hardcover – January 8, 2013

4.5 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Sarah Osborn’s World reflects unusually industrious research, profound historical insight, and extraordinary human empathy. It offers a superb depiction of the long and complex life of a woman who was at the heart of eighteenth-century American evangelical history. The remarkable character of that life is matched by the remarkable success of this book."—Mark A. Noll, University of Notre Dame
(Mark A. Noll)

 “Sarah Osborn’s World describes the emergence of evangelicalism with incomparable precision and profound grace, using the struggling life of one woman to convey the grand scope of eighteenth-century history. I defy anyone to read this book and not remain haunted by its subject.”—Kathryn Lofton, author of Oprah: The Gospel of an Icon
(Kathryn Lofton)

 "Sarah Osborn’s World is written beautifully and reads like a novel. The beginning undergraduate or non-historian will turn the pages with delight, but the academic specialist will long ponder the significance of this book for his or her own work. The life of Sarah Osborn is not only narrated splendidly on its own terms but also carefully placed to illuminate a wide range of scholarly discussions of religion and culture in which Brekus is well-informed. There is no better biographical study of an eighteenth-century religious woman."—Bruce Hindmarsh, author of The Evangelical Conversion Narrative
(Bruce Hindmarsh)

“Fascinating . . . remarkable . . . an eloquently written, extraordinarily deep contextual portrayal of life in the 18th century.”—Jonathan M. Yeager, Books & Culture 
(Jonathan M. Yeager Books & Culture)

“Illuminating . . . authoritative [and] accessible.”—Kirkus Reviews 
(Kirkus Reviews)

“[A] stunning achievement”—Janet Moore Lindman, William and Mary Quarterly
(Janet Moore Lindman William and Mary Quarterly)

Winner of the 2013 Aldersgate Prize given by John Wesley Honors College, Indiana Wesleyan University.
(Aldersgate Prize Indiana Wesleyan University 2013-09-24)

“Insightful”—Laura Porter, Catholic Historical Review
(Laura Porter Catholic Historical Review)

Won an Honorable Mention for the 2013 New England Book Festival given by the JM Northern Media Family of Festivals, in the General Non-Fiction Category.
(New England Book Festival JM Northern Media 2013-12-27)

“Remarkable . . . [Brekus] displays real sensitivity toward Osborn’s struggles.”—Thomas S. Kidd, Gospel Coalition
(Thomas S. Kidd Gospel Coalition)

Received an Honorable Mention for the 2013 American Publishers Awards for Professional and Scholarly Excellence (PROSE), in the Theology & Religious Studies category.
(PROSE Awards American Publishers Awards for Professional and Scholarly Excellence 2014-02-07)

“Magnificent . . . beautifully written, deeply researched, and effectively argued . . . the best kind of historical writing . . . a compassionate and sensitive understanding . . . an eminently readable book.”—Edward E. Andrews, New England Quarterly (Edward E. Andrews New England Quarterly)

Winner of the 2015 Outler Prize sponsored by the American Society for Chruch History.
(Outler Prize American Society for Church History 2015-01-05)

About the Author

Catherine A. Brekus teaches American religious history at the University of Chicago. She is the author or editor of several books on the history of women and religion, including Strangers and Pilgrims: Female Preaching in America, and is editing a volume of Sarah Osborn's diaries forthcoming from Yale University Press. She lives in Kenilworth, IL.
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Product Details

  • Series: New Directions in Narrative History
  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (January 8, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300182902
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300182903
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #60,680 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Catherine Brekus, a prominent scholar of American Religion at the University of Chicago, has written a good introductory text about American evangelicalism. Drawing heavily on writings of one women in Rhode Island who lead a series of interracial prayer meeting during the 18th century the books structure is fairly similar to other attempts by scholars to use the writing of one person to explain a time period. It instantly draws comparisons to Laurel Ulrich's "A Midwives Tale" and Martha Hodes "Sea Captains Wife," though the book does seem a bit less biographical then either of those works.

The text is clearly intended for use by undergraduates or audiences new to the field. The book explains Calvinism and spends time discussing the "New England Primer," which likely will be simply a refresher for a more senior scholar. Still, it is nice that the work is accessible to a broader audience.

The book does have a number of problems however. The most substantial is that Brekus argues that Evangelical Christianity was an enlightenment project. This may be a tenable argument, but Sarah Osborne's own writing offers little support for this conclusion and Brekus is forced to heavily cite evangelicals unconnected with her. The thesis simply does not flow naturally from the source base.

This book is a worthy read for historians of the period, students of American religion or those trying to find there feet getting to know the subject. Recommended.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Brekus' history of Sarah Osborn. The book tended to be narrative/journalistic in style, and endeavored to bring Sarah to life for a modern reader. I greatly appreciated Brekus' ability to approach Sarah on Sarah's own terms, rather than writing a modern consciousness onto her or judging her from a modern viewpoint. My one critique would be that Brekus at times seems to write emotions onto Sarah that aren't necessarily evident in the text, but even in these instances Brekus' speculations are certainly believable.

TLDR: if you are interested in religious history from America's early years as a country (and in the time leading up to it), definitely give this book a read.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have read a lot about this period, but usually through the eyes of the male theologians. Sarah Osborn fought serious odds to be able to think like she did, do what she did, and write volumes. A real treasure.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
an exciting and well written book. It well deserves the enthusiastic reviews I had read beforehand.
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