The American Bible: How Our Words Unite, Divide, and Define a Nation  -     By: Stephen Prothero
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The American Bible: How Our Words Unite, Divide, and Define a Nation

HarperOne / 2012 / Hardcover

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Product Description

Since Thomas Jefferson first recorded those self-evident truths in the Declaration of Independence, America has been a nation that has unfolded as much on the page and the podium as on battlefields or in statehouses. Here Stephen Prothero reveals which texts continue to generate controversy and drive debate. He then puts these voices into conversation, tracing how prominent leaders and thinkers of one generation have commented upon the core texts of another, and invites readers to join in.

Few can question that the Constitution is part of our shared cultural lexicon, that the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision still impacts lives, or that "The Star-Spangled Banner" informs our national identity. But Prothero also considers lesser known texts that have sparked our war of words, including Thomas Paine's Common Sense and Maya Lin's Vietnam Veterans Memorial. In The American Bible Christopher Hitchens weighs in on Huck Finn, and Sarah Palin on Martin Luther King Jr.

From the speeches of Presidents Lincoln, Kennedy, and Reagan to the novels of Harriet Beecher Stowe and Ayn Rand-Prothero takes the reader into the heart of America's culture wars. These "scriptures" provide the words that continue to unite, divide, and define Americans today.

Product Information

Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 320
Vendor: HarperOne
Publication Date: 2012
Dimensions: 9.03 X 6.60 (inches)
ISBN: 0062123432
ISBN-13: 9780062123435
Availability: In Stock

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Publisher's Description

Since Thomas Jefferson first recorded those self-evident truths in the Declaration of Independence, America has been a nation that has unfolded as much on the page and the podium as on battlefields or in statehouses. Here Stephen Prothero reveals which texts continue to generate controversy and drive debate. He then puts these voices into conversation, tracing how prominent leaders and thinkers of one generation have commented upon the core texts of another, and invites readers to join in.

Few can question that the Constitution is part of our shared cultural lexicon, that the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision still impacts lives, or that "The Star-Spangled Banner" informs our national identity. But Prothero also considers lesser known texts that have sparked our war of words, including Thomas Paine's Common Sense and Maya Lin's Vietnam Veterans Memorial. In The American Bible Christopher Hitchens weighs in on Huck Finn, and Sarah Palin on Martin Luther King Jr. From the speeches of Presidents Lincoln, Kennedy, and Reagan to the novels of Harriet Beecher Stowe and Ayn Rand—Prothero takes the reader into the heart of America's culture wars. These "scriptures" provide the words that continue to unite, divide, and define Americans today.

Author Bio

STEPHEN PROTHERO is the New York Times bestselling author of Religious Literacy and God Is Not One, a professor of religion at Boston University, and a senior fellow at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History in Washington D.C. His work has been featured on the cover of Time magazine, The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, National Public Radio, and other top national media outlets. He blogs for CNN's Belief Blog and writes for the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, USA Today, The Washington Post, and other publications. Visit the author online at www.stephenprothero.com.

Publishers Weekly

What makes America unique, Prothero convincingly argues, is that the words that manifest its "core ideas and values--" from the Declaration of Independence to Martin Luther King Jr.'s "Letter from Birmingham Jail" and Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged--continue to be debated by its citizens. To illustrate this, Prothero (God Is Not One) takes excerpts from important American speeches and documents and places them next to various commentaries. A particularly rich result of this juxtaposition comes in the supplements to John Winthrop's 1630 sermon "A Model of Christian Charity," wherein themes from Winthrop's speech are used by John O'Sullivan to justify Manifest Destiny, by Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson to posit the 9/11 attacks as divine retribution, and by Sarah Palin to praise America while misattributing the coinage of the "shining city on a hill" to Ronald Reagan. Despite the book's arrangement according to biblical headings (e.g., Genesis, Acts, Law, Epistles, etc.), Prothero deftly balances the debate between religious and secular voices, such as on the godlessness of the Constitution. The book's greatest strength lies in this neutrality, offering commentaries from both sides of the discussion--all enlightening, encouraging, and frustrating in equal measure. (June) 2012 Reed Business Information

Editorial Reviews

“In these pages Stephen Prothero has brilliantly captured the American spirit-a spirit that has always seen us through hours of division and disagreement. With Prothero’s expert analysis, these texts should spark civil conversation, informed debate, and intelligent discussion.”
“There are certain speeches, songs, books, letters, laws, and axioms that Americans honor enough to argue about, says religion scholar Stephen Prothero. Like the Declaration of Independence, this almost consecrated canon inspires endless commentary about what it means to be American-and what ‘America’ means.”
“Required for putting in one place so many historic pieces that are more opined over than actually read. Awesome scholarship to an admirable purpose.”
The American Bible is a provocative, brilliantly realized illumination of American values by means of excerpted historical documents.”
In The American Bible, Prothero has turned his considerable talents to assembling a version of the American canon. The author’s prose is, as usual, spritely, informed and incisive.”

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