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The Great Awakening: The Roots of Evangelical Christianity in Colonial America Hardcover – November 28, 2007

4.2 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Well researched, clearly written and authoritatively argued. There is no book of comparable breadth, either chronologically or geographically."—Mark Noll, University of Notre Dame

(Mark Noll)

“It has been fifty years since Edwin Gaustad told the history of New England’s Great Awakening, and, since then, the revivals themselves have at times been almost lost sight of in debates about the fictions of memory and the invention of tradition. Thomas Kidd’s narrative, returning squarely to the formative events and factions that shaped early evangelicalism, offers a valuable synoptic account of the beginnings of this continuously important movement.”—Leigh E. Schmidt, Princeton University
(Leigh E. Schmidt)

“An informed and much-needed synthesis of the events that comprise the ‘Great Awakening.’ Judiciously describes evangelical efforts from Nova Scotia to Georgia over the entire eighteenth century and demonstrates the centrality of these revivals to an understanding of the American mind. Kidd’s book will become the standard introduction to its subject.”—Philip F. Gura, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
(Philip F. Gura)

“With this deeply researched and beautifully focused study of the origins of American evangelicalism, Thomas Kidd gives us nothing less than a fresh, post-revisionist understanding of the Great Awakening. But that is not all. By casting a powerful light upon the controversies at the outset of the evangelical movement, particularly those revolving around the third person of the Trinity, he illuminates the rest of that movement’s conflicted history, providing insight into its enduring complexities, and its likely manifestations in the century ahead.”—Wilfred McClay, author of The Masterless: Self and Society in Modern America 
(Wilfred McClay)

“Despite the prodigious attention to the ‘Great Awakening’ in eighteenth-century America, there has been, amazingly, no modern comprehensive account that looks at all regions from Nova Scotia to Georgia. The result is a highly fragmented series of vignettes and biographies with no overarching narrative. That void has now been more than filled by Thomas Kidd's masterful analysis of the eighteenth-century revivals and the ‘evangelical’ movement they spawned.  Thoroughly researched and beautifully written, this book is must reading not only for early American historians, but for anyone concerned to understand the origins of modern evangelicalism.”—Harry S. Stout, Yale University
(Harry S. Stout)

"This monograph sheds important light on the origins of evangelicalism in the US. . . . Recommended."—Choice
(Choice 2008-09-01)

"An important and impressive piece of scholarship and is bound to become the first point of reference for a generation of students at all levels who are seeking to make some sense of an intriguing cast of characters and set of events."—Linford D. Fisher, New England Quarterly
(Linford D. Fisher New England Quarterly 2008-06-01)

". . . a book to end all books on the Great Awakening, substituting a powerful new force in American Christianity: evangelicalism. . . . [A] probing and persuasive book. . . . Throughout this fine book, the reader has not been cheated in any way, only richly rewarded."—Edwin S. Gaustad, Catholic Historical Review
(Edwin S. Gaustad Catholic Historical Review)

"A compelling, clear narrative. . . . He succeeds dramatically."—Caleb Maskell. Journal of Religion
(Caleb Maskell Journal of Religion)

About the Author

Thomas S. Kidd is associate professor of history, Baylor University, and author of The Protestant Interest: New England after Puritanism, published by Yale University Press. He lives in Woodway, TX.


Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; First edition (November 28, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300118872
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300118872
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,477,102 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Thomas S. Kidd teaches history at Baylor University, and is Associate Director of Baylor's Institute for Studies of Religion. Dr. Kidd writes at the Anxious Bench blog at Patheos.com. He also regularly contributes for outlets such as WORLD Magazine, The Gospel Coalition, and USA Today. His latest books are George Whitefield: America's Spiritual Founding Father; and Baptists in America: A History, with co-author Barry Hankins. Find him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/thomas.kidd and on Twitter @ThomasSKidd

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The rise of American evangelicalism has long fascinated scholars. In his recent work, The Great Awakening, Thomas S. Kidd presents the story of American evangelicalism through the lens of the concurrent rise of American revivalism. Revivalism has often been discussed in terms of the "First" and "Second" Great Awakenings, but such a dichotomy does not suit Kidd. He states in the epilogue, "There was simply no clear break between the First and Second Great Awakenings....from the perspective of the eighteenth century, the Second Great Awakening looks like a story of continuity as much as change" (321). For the purpose of the present volume, however, Kidd sticks to the eighteenth century. In doing so, Kidd presents his thesis: rather than confining the so-called First Great Awakening to the apex of early American revivalism from 1740-1743, Kidd argues for "what we might call the long First Great Awakening" (xix), or a period of intense revivalism from about the 1720s through the 1780s.

Sticking with a theme of redefinition, Kidd also desires a slightly nuanced understanding of what makes one an evangelical Christian. He considers the four-pronged approach of David Bebbington-conversionism, activism, biblicism, and crucicentrism-to be slightly off, and instead argues for an evangelicalism defined by "persistent desires for revival, widespread individual conversions, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit" (xix). This definition is crucial to the overall argument of the book, as the author sees this period as a fracas over the limits and boundaries of each of those three characteristics.

This fracas involved the splintering of evangelicalism into three parties: antirevivalists, moderates, and radicals.
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Historical books researched by Thomas Kidd are both eye-opening and inspiring. Studying the mind set of those in the past gives us a lot to reflect about in our current lives. Reading this is both enjoyable and an important investment of time worthy of being made.
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Do you suspect, as I do, the really long reviews are really commercials? Written by the author, or the author's brother, or the author's agent's brother?

I could not finish this one. Not that I often put down a book... perhaps 1-5% of the books I pick up I fail to finish.

For instance, I could not finish The Road, by Cormac McCarthy. It was a well written piece, but it was too intense for me. I got about half way through, decided I couldn't take it, and skipped to the last 5 pages.

In this case, the subject matter was too uninteresting to me. The treatment of it was too much "person A did this, and then person B did this, and then person A did this, and then person C did this." If you're an evangelical and a rabid historian, perhaps this work will be interesting to you.

If you're an evangelical, dive in. Also, if you're an evangelical, read your Bible and think for yourself.
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