Falwell Inc.: Inside a Religious, Political, Educational, and Business Empire

Dirk Smillie, Author . St. Martin’s $29.95 (246p) ISBN 978-0-312-37629-1

For a man who forswore vices of all kinds, Reverend Jerry Falwell was a man of huge appetites—not least for profit—and Smillie’s business biography examines how the son of Virginia bootleggers transformed himself from a smalltown preacher into a multimedia oracle. Armed with a siege mentality, dogged work ethic and surprising openness to the best idea, Falwell pioneered a direct-mail empire with a sophisticated electronic database and a fundamentalist interpretation of Christianity that appealed to Americans turned off by mainline Protestantism’s reforms in the 1960s. Smillie’s Falwell is an indomitable risk taker, constantly weathering cycles of prosperity and crushing debt as he raises up his empire, founds Liberty University with sweepstakes, starts a wildly lucrative online school, exploits his opponents (like Larry Flynt) and generally raises hell. The author’s access to the Falwell estate and family perhaps explains the paucity of more stringent critical (or political) analysis as Smillie focuses primarily upon the Gospel Hour ’s balance sheets. The book suffers when Falwell drops out of the book midway and it loses its controversial protagonist and most of its steam; unsurprisingly, the real heat is generated by the visionary huckster. (Aug.)

Reviewed on: 06/23/2008
Release date: 08/01/2008
Show other formats
FORMATS
X
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Email Address

Password

Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email pw@pubservice.com with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.