Strong positive reviews of American Grace from Booklist and Kirkus Reviews

September 15, 2010
By tomsander

Flickr photo by lobi

Booklist said of American Grace: “An essential resource for anyone trying to understand twenty-first-century America.” (September 15, 2010 review).  They believe that the section most likely to cause debate in America, explains how religion has increasingly separated Democrats from Republicans over the last 30 years.  An excerpt from their review follows:

“The data show that the tempestuous sixties shook faith in religion and that the seventies and eighties incubated a strong resurgence of devotion. But the two most recent decades add another twist, as young Americans have abandoned the pews in record numbers. Still, despite recent erosion of religious commitment, Americans remain a distinctively devout people. And devotion affects life far from the sanctuary: Putnam and Campbell parse numbers that identify religious Americans as more generous, more civically engaged, and more neighborly than their secularly minded peers.”

Kirkus Reviews, also in their September 15, 2010 issue called American Grace an “Impressive study of American religious diversity” and a “valuable contribution to the conversation surrounding faith in America.”  What follows is an excerpt:

“They [Putnam and Campbell] punctuate the narrative with in-depth vignettes of particular congregations, ranging from a conservative Lutheran megachurch in Houston to a Reform synagogue near Chicago….  The text is highly readable, and the authors are not afraid to come to clear conclusions. In describing the rarity with which partisan political views are actually trumpeted from the pulpit, the authors state bluntly, “Most people come to church to hear about God, not Caesar. Too much talk of Caesar risks driving them away.” The authors’ conclusion describes why, despite America’s religious diversity, “America is graced with the peaceful coexistence of both religious diversity and devotion.” Since Americans are intimately acquainted with others of diverse backgrounds more today than ever before, these relationships lead to acceptance of individuals as well as of groups of people.”


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