From Publishers Weekly
Harline, an acclaimed historian and author of A Bishop's Tale
, adopts a brilliant day-in-the-life strategy to explore the history of the Christian Sabbath in various cultures and times. Rather than attempting a sweeping and methodically exhaustive approach, Harline investigates the topic episodically, portraying, for example, a medieval English Sunday in one chapter, a decadent fin-de-siècle Parisian Sunday in another, and a 1950s American Sunday in the last and longest chapter. Along the way we also visit the earliest Roman Christians; a Dutch Reformed family in the 17th century; some battle-weary soldiers during World War I; and England again during the interwar years. Harline is a marvelous storyteller, combing the diaries, popular periodicals and letters of the various periods to bring the people and their times to life. There are some surprising revelations; until the fifth century, Sunday was a day of worship but also one of work, as early Christian leaders were anxious to distinguish it from the Jewish Sabbath. And Sunday has sometimes given rise to unlikely leisure pastimes: in Holland 400 years ago, it was the preferred day for courting; and in America today, it seems sacrosanct for professional sports. Harline's engaging and wonderfully written popular history deserves a wide readership. (Mar. 27)
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Sunday means different things to different people and different cultures. Some look forward to it, others dread it. In this delicious study of Sunday as a concept, Harline contrasts the various ways that Western cultures have looked on the seventh (or first) day of the week, emphasizing Sunday observances, not Sunday rules, especially in western Europe and the U.S. First, however, he examines the emergence of Sunday in the ancient Mediterranean before moving on to medieval and Catholic Europe. He examines a late-nineteenth-century French Sunday, when Parisians promenaded the broad avenues intending to be seen; a Belgian Sunday before the Great War; an English interwar Sunday, when churchgoing was important, but equally many chose to spend the time at home, while others went to the local pub; and the American Sunday of the 1950s, a time for watching sports, especially football and baseball, reading the Sunday paper, and viewing programs on that increasingly popular technological marvel, television. Fine popular social history for the general reader. June SawyersCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved