HALLELUJAH LADS AND LASSES: Remaking the Salvation Army in America, 1880–1930

Lillian Taiz, Author . Univ. of North Carolina $39.95 (264p) ISBN 978-0-8078-2621-8 ISBN 0-8078-4935-9

Taiz (California State University, Los Angeles) makes a valuable contribution to the bumper crop of books about the Salvation Army. Like several recent monographs, this book usefully charts the transformation of the Army from a primarily evangelistic sect to the kindly bell-ringers we know today, raising money and collecting goods for the poor. Though Taiz does offer readers a glimpse of the Army's founders and leaders, her book is distinguished from many studies by its attention to the ordinary men and women, the "hallelujah lads and lasses" of the title, who devoted their lives to the Army. Through a careful reading of their conversion narratives, Taiz suggests that Salvationists wanted to "escape some of the riskier aspects of their world," like prostitution and liquor. Taiz occasionally dwells too long on familiar, even obvious, points, such as the militaristic imagery of the Army. Her discussion of what she calls "democracy" in the Army—making piety available to working-class urbanites by combining "the culture of the saloon and music hall with a frontier-camp meeting style"—does not add much to Diane Winston's pioneering discussion of the topic in Red Hot and Righteous. Still, Taiz has crafted a compelling story about evangelism and urban relief in America, and she tells it in remarkably crisp prose. Armchair Army-ites and scholars alike will enjoy this book. (June 25)

Reviewed on: 05/28/2001
Release date: 06/01/2001
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