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Satan in America: The Devil We Know [Paperback]

W. Scott Poole
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

December 16, 2010 0742561720 978-0742561724
Satan in America tells the story of America's complicated relationship with the devil. "New light" evangelists of the eighteenth century, enslaved African Americans, demagogic politicians, and modern American film-makers have used the devil to damn their enemies, explain the nature of evil and injustice, mount social crusades, construct a national identity, and express anxiety about matters as diverse as the threat of war to the dangers of deviant sexuality. The idea of the monstrous and the bizarre providing cultural metaphors that interact with historical change is not new. Poole takes a new tack by examining this idea in conjunction with the concerns of American religious history. The book shows that both the range and the scope of American religiousness made theological evil an especially potent symbol. Satan appears repeatedly on the political, religious, and cultural landscape of the United States, a shadow self to the sunny image of American progress and idealism.

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Editorial Reviews


Poole's engaging, wide-ranging survey of Satan in America from the Puritans to the War on Terror is an insightful and provocative counterpoint to works by Stephen Prothero and others of Jesus in America. Poole shows how much the enemy always has been within us and then projected outward. (Paul Harvey, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs)

From witch hunts of the colonial period to wars on terror in the modern era, from the raspy voice of blues musicians to the foreboding demonic presence in major motion pictures, Satan has been everywhere in American religion and culture. W. Scott Poole offers a brilliant book about the prince of darkness in our current and historical consciousness. This is an outstanding work. (Edward J. Blum, author of W. E. B. Du Bois, American Prophet)

Satan in America has an expansive scope. . . . Poole's work will introduce nonspecialists to various interesting American religious figures and ideas. . . . Recommended. (S. McCloud CHOICE)

Poole compellingly documents how the threat of the devil has been used throughout history to justify acts of bigotry, exclusion, and even official acts of cruelty and mass murder, from the colonial Indian wars up to the present. This insightful, profoundly troubling book is essential reading for anyone wishing to understand the dark roots of American cultural history. (Bill Ellis, Penn State University)

About the Author

W. Scott Poole is associate professor in history at the College of Charleston. He is the author of five books dealing with American religion, race, and popular culture.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 274 pages
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (December 16, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0742561720
  • ISBN-13: 978-0742561724
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #999,373 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

W. Scott Poole is the author of numerous books and articles on race, religion and popular culture in America.

His latest is _Monsters in America_ from Baylor University Press, forthcoming in October of 2011._Monsters_ explores the American fascination with vampires, zombies, serial killers and even sea serpents, showing how these creatures of our dark obsessions help us to understand the dark and forboding places in American history.

In 2009, Poole published _Satan in America: The Devil We Know__ (Rowman and Littlefield), a cultural history of the image of Satan in American religion, history and popular culture. This exciting work blends the study of horror films, comic books, religious texts and newspaper accounts of "satanic panics" into a highly readable analysis of the concept of the devil in American cultural history. Penn State folklorist Bill Ellis called the book "required reading for anyone who wants to understand the dark roots of America culture." In 2010, the book became available in paperback and in a Kindle edition.

Poole regularly writes book and film reviews for, an international magazine of cultural criticism. He is currently writing a book about 1950s horror host and Ed Wood star "Vampira" that explores the history of American sexuality, gender relations and the rebirth of the gothic in post-WW2 America. Its a story that begins with the history of the dark lady of late night horror and branches out into a discussion of the Beats, Bebop Jazz, the birth of rock and roll and the social protest movements of the 1960s.

Poole is also an associate professor of History at the College of Charleston where he teaches courses on monsters in American history, Satan in folk belief and pop culture and the history of religion and race in American life .

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book for Anyone...almost July 15, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
I rented this book because it was required in the class I took with Dr. Poole and wish I had purchased it instead. So I am, and I'm also getting it for a relative with a background in American Studies. It is informative as to the place of the Devil specifically and of religion generally in America from its roots onward and encompasses history, politics, psychology, entertainment, and art. There are even sections on comic books, if that's your forte. The author, who writes simply with a touch of humor, makes little pretense on how he feels about the negative aspects of religion in America; so a reader might not want this if h/she is ultra-conservative and doesn't want his feathers ruffled. In other words, buy this if you are open to new ideas and slants, want to learn, be informed, and...perhaps...have your vision of America changed.
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1 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great book great author September 24, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
my teacher is the author of this book. he is brilliant and created an amazing and intriguing book of the history of the ideas of the Devil in modern america
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