From Publishers Weekly
In 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. famously said that the South could hew "a stone of hope" from segregation's "mountain of despair." This book explores the role that religion played in shaping that hope. In a brilliant chapter on the grassroots character of the civil rights cause, Chappell argues that the movement could be considered less a political protest with religious dimensions than a religious revival with political and social dimensions. The civil rights struggle had many of the elements of revival-miracle stories, mass religious enthusiasm, music, "conversion" experiences, even messianic expectations. Chappell writes engagingly, drawing an important revisionist portrait of the crucial role of religion in defeating Jim Crow.
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"An arresting new perspective. . . . Few have matched Chappell's sure and subtle understanding of [King's] underlying Christian conviction of human sinfulness." -- Books & Culture, July/August 2004
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"One of the three or four most important books on the civil rights movement." -- The Atlantic Monthly, November, 2003
Chappell writes engagingly, drawing an important revisionist portrait of the crucial role of religion in defeating Jim Crow. -- Publishers Weekly (starred review), November 17, 2003
Innovative. . . . A revelationand a surprise. -- Associated Press, January 2004
Intricate, dazzling in its reach . . . . In its mix of rigor, daring and perceptiveness, [the book] is a spectacular work. -- New York Times Book Review, February 8, 2004
It's impossible to read the book without doing some fundamental rethinking about the role religion can play in . . . public life. -- The New York Times, March 23, 2004
The book is a major contribution to civil-rights history: clearly written, prodigiously researched and forcefully argued. -- The Wall Street Journal, January, 14, 2004
[A] splendid history of the civil rights movement. -- The Wall Street Journal, November 8, 2004
[A] stunning reinterpretation of the American civil rights movement. -- The Los Angeles Times Book Review, November 16, 2003
[An] unusually thought-provoking book. . . . Refreshingly unconventional. . . . Chappell merits considerable praise. -- Newsday, March 28, 2004