The Evangelicals: The Struggle to Shape America
In recent elections, politicians have been working on getting the Evangelical vote, starting with Ronald Reagan in 1980. How did the Evangelicals come about, and how did they rise to become a dominant force in electoral politics in the latter half of the 20th century? This new book by Frances Fitzgerald aims to answer that question. Despite its thickness, this is a broad overview of Evangelical history in America from the founding to the present. Mrs. Fitzgerald examines how Evangelicals came to prominence through tent revivals and the like, and how, like many groups, they split into different branches during the Civil War. Most of the book, though, is taken up of more recent history, from Billy Graham onward. It feels like this is the book Mrs. Fitzgerald wanted to write, and that the first part is more of an introduction to her real story. And it shows. She deftly narrates how, as a group, Evangelicals got involved in national politics and culture wars and aligned themselves with the Republican party. This book might not appeal to everyone–it is thick and, at times, not an easy read. But it does examine closely how religion and politics have become intertwined.
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