This section includes book notes of 150-300 words as well as some book reviews of 600-900 words on books of particular interest to the members of our group. If you have either suggestions for books you would like to review or see reviewed (including recent books of your own), please contact Nigel Copsey of the University of Teesside (UK).
Sébastien Fath, Militants de la Bible aux États-Unis, Paris: autrement, 2004, 222 pp., EUR 19.00, ISBN 2-7467-0535-4 (pbk). Josef Braml, Amerika, Gott und die Welt, Berlin: Matthes & Seitz, 2005, 147 pp., EUR 14.90, ISBN 3-88221-854-1 (pbk). Anatol Lieven, America Right or Wrong, London: Harper Collins, 2004, 274 pp., USD 15.95, ISBN 0 00 716456 4 (pbk). Reviewed by Hans-Georg Betz (Nyon, Switzerland) The day after George W. Bush’s re-election as president of the United States in November 2004, the British daily newspaper The Daily Mirror commented on the event with a provocative headline prominently displayed across the paper’s front page: “How can 59,054,087 people be so DUMB?” The Daily Mirror was hardly the only major European newspaper to ask that question. The majority of Europeans, surveys show, have generally had a negative view of Bush and his administration and have genuinely been puzzled about how he ever managed to get elected president. The three books under review provide important, albeit only partial answers to this question. All of them are dealing with the growing influence of the “Christian Right” not only in the Republican Party, but, via the Grand Old Party (GOP), on American politics in general. Fath’s study of evangelicals and Christian fundamentalists (which are not necessarily the same) in the southern parts of the country (the so-called Bible Belt) serves as a useful introduction to the subject. After a brief overview of the history of southern Christianity and its impact on southern politics, the author offers an excellent analysis of the social environment, in which southern Christianity is embedded, the importance of the media in promoting the faith, and the main characteristics of the evangelical “doctrine.” Finally, the author provides a very useful typology of the various strands of evangelical Christianity in the Bible Belt.