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From Bible Belt to Sunbelt: Plain-Folk Religion, Grassroots Politics, and the Rise of Evangelical Conservatism Hardcover – December 13, 2010
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--Amy Sullivan, Time
"Detailed and closely argued.... Dochuk...well understands the pivotal role religion plays in shaping America's cultural self-image, and...breaks with a long tradition of historical writing that has monolithically depicted evangelical believers as backward-looking prophets of cultural reaction."
--Chris Lehmann, The Nation
"[Dochuk] skillfully traces a continuous narrative stretching from the Dust Bowl to Ronald Reagan, and demonstrates with prodigious research how this narrative fits into a much broader canvas of...political change. A superbly researched study of grassroots mobilization.... An important book."
--Mark A. Noll, The New Republic
"Very impressive.... From Bible Belt to Sunbelt is the product of prodigious research."
--Randall Balmer, Christian Century
"Dochuk excels in his profiles of early 'plain-folk' settlers and their world, and the tangled personal, institutional, and doctrinal motives of the ministry that served them.... [A] fascinating portrait of the early Christian Right."
--Ed Kilgore, Washington Monthly
Darren Dochuk has painted a vista from which unfolds the creation of Reagan’s nation, as the California dreams of Southern evangelicals become the American dreams of Sunbelt conservatives. Through the guiding telescope of Dochuk’s prose, we meet a fascinating cast of characters destined to be staples in future tellings of this important story. This much anticipated book is well worth the wait. (Steven P. Miller, author of Billy Graham and the Rise of the Republican South)
The nation is today color-coded into red and blue. In this tour de force of research, narrative, and analysis, a brilliant young historian chronicles how Southern California served as the matrix for this enduring bifurcation. Beneath the sunshine and the palm trees, uprooted evangelicals experienced a Great Awakening that transformed American politics in our era. (Kevin Starr, University of Southern California)
With narrative authority and sparkling insight, Darren Dochuk explains how and why Southern California became the crucible of the Christian Right. Anyone who wants to understand the history of modern American conservatism should read this book. (Michael Kazin, author of A Godly Hero: The Life of William Jennings Bryan)
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
Mr. Dekok focuses on the change and finds a major explanation for it in the transformations in evangelical Christianity in Southern California from the 1930s to 1980.
The migrants he discusses are the people from the western south (Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana & thereabouts) who settled in the Los Angeles area. They had much more opportunity to find work there than the perhaps more famous Dust Bowl refugees who ended up as migrant farmworkers, a group that Americans will associate with the Joads of John Steinbeck's novel "The Grapes of Wrath."
As the title suggests, it traces the transformation of "plain-folk" evangelical Protestantism, whose followers were accepting of the New Deal, to a form of evangelical Protestantism whose followers supported the USA's military buildup after World War II, an aggressive Cold War stance, a very free-market form of capitalism, and conservative moral values.
The author makes fascinating observations, which had never occurred to me, about just how many southern people were settled in Southern California in this period -- the number of southern-born people in the environs of Los Angeles actually exceeded the population of some southern states. The largest percentage of these folks were white, which of course has an influence on their history.Read more ›
Evangelicals became more about politics than we ever should have. I thought we were taught that all we do is to glorify Jesus. I saw way too much man and ego in this mix of my history. It makes me feel "dirty".
i am breaking about from the cloning lab created for me and now I do feel,it was purposefully created.
A great read with incredible depth. It was/is not all Robertson and Falwell. But now, it is way more me and God and not those gents and me.
Nice job Dochuk.
The book documents the amalgamation of politics and religion instituted by transplanted southern evangelicals rising through the ranks of the new evangelical empire established on the soil of southern California during the period of the 1930s-1950s. Transplanted southerners from the western South (OKlahoma, Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, and Kansas) instituted their brand of evangelicalism into the culture of southern California - particularly in Los Angeles and Orange counties. Southern preachers and evangelical businessmen merged religion into politics, thereby laying the foundation for the Christian Right and the Republican Southern Strategy, while making evangelicals the solid core of the Republican Party. Southern California would become a bastion ofright wing politics - enabling the national rise of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan.Read more ›
Furthermore, for anyone puzzled as to how party ideological conflicts have led to the polarization and government paralysis we live with today, this book will be illuminating.
Based on facts and scholarship rather than assertions and opinions, this book provides a useful antidote to those seeking to understand the evolution of religion on American politics today.
Dochuk's arguments challenged typical narratives regarding the relationship between evangelicalism and modern conservative politics. Instead of beginning with the realignment of political parties in the 1960s, or the Moral Majority, Dochuk argued that Southern transplants who loved "Jefferson and Jesus" began the relationship, preachers who were active during mid-century political battles fostered it, and entrepreneurs whose institutions promoted capitalism and Jesus energized it. Californians, not religious or political elites, were the most significant actors in realigning the nation's political parties. Institutions, not just ideologies, consolidated the fusion of fiscal and social conservatism.
One strength of Dochuk's work was the construction of his historical narrative. While the narrative spanned almost forty years, Dochuk limited each chapter to a timeframe of approximately five years. This structure enabled readers to gain in-depth knowledge of a specific period while also moving the narrative forward.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great history of this time in American religion, economics, and politics.Published 19 months ago by James T. Hackett
The most important observation I had in reading this book was seeing religious viewpoints change with time and cultural traditions. Read morePublished on February 10, 2013 by Daphne Faulkner
Contrary to traditional scholastic approaches which take a "jack-in-the-box" approach to conservative religion in modern day American history- that is, conservative religions... Read morePublished on October 6, 2012 by KayElle