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American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us Paperback – February 21, 2012
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“[A] finely-grained and judicious study, sure to become a classic work of social analysis. . . . Riveting and sometimes disconcerting insights into the ways religion shapes and is shaped by the political and social currents of American life.”
About the Author
Robert D. Putnam is the Peter and Isabel Malkin Professor of Public Policy at Harvard University and founder of the Saguaro Seminar: Civic Engagement in America. He is the author or coauthor of ten previous books.
David E. Campbell is the John Cardinal O’Hara, C.S.C. Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Notre Dame as well as the director of the Rooney Center for the Study of American Democracy.
Top customer reviews
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The book discusses a huge number of issues, trends, and cross-currents. One interesting topic concerns the recent growth in the portion of Americans with no religious affiliation (sometimes referred to as the "nones"); the authors analyze this phenomenon by explaining how the sexual revolution of the 60's led first to the rise of the religious right, and then more recently to a counter-reaction on the part of those turned off by this rise (especially younger people).
Another key conclusion regards the strength of Americans' religious tolerance in the face of our differences. The authors argue religious diversity among our extended family and friends leads to a high level of tolerance on the part of all but a small proportion of hard cases.
There's alot more here, and much that was new to me. Reading it even prompted me to take a dive into other survey data available on-line (Pew's US Religious Landscape Survey, and the American Religious Identification Survey) as I caught the bug of learning about the details of our unique American religious stew.
Very interesting topics and the vignettes were very helpful in bringing home the points or topics the chapters tried to make.
Not only did they help bring home a point they made it more meaningful and relevant. The authors feel that perhaps religion is not as divisive as are politics and racial and ethnic topics, but that remains to be seen.
Some interesting takeaways: At the end of WWII, American churchgoers occupying the pews of most churches were as likely to be Democrats as Republicans. The "religiosity" (religious fervor) of Americans today is higher than that of people in other industrialized nations - including Italy and Iran.
The authors use data from five respected surveys spanning many years to give a thorough look at the spectrum of U.S. religion and how it, and its relationship to social and political issues, has changed over the past half century. Whether the landscape that emerges offers reassurance or not depends on one's perspective.
Because it contains numerous graphs and tables, this book is better read on paper than as an e-book.