New Historical Atlas of Religion in America

Edwin S. Gaustad, Author, Philip L. Barlow, Author, Philip L. Barlow, Joint Author Oxford University Press, USA $195 (464p) ISBN 978-0-19-509168-7
The ""new"" in the title of this gorgeous, informative atlas suggests the book's position as its own successor; in 1962, church historian Gaustad released the meticulously researched Historical Atlas of Religion in America, which has served ever since as the best resource of its kind. This significantly revised version (whose statistical base takes readers at least up to 1990, and sometimes as late as 1998) delights not only in its 260 full-color maps and 200 graphs, tables and charts, but also in the mellifluous text co-written by Gaustad and Barlow, a theology professor at Hanover College. Each religious group receives extensive treatment, with heightened emphasis on religious newcomers such as Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, Buddhists and Muslims; the sections on Native American and African-American religious traditions have also been significantly expanded. The authors note that a picture is worth a thousand words only ""sometimes,"" and take painstaking care to ensure that the maps and charts contained herein illustrate the complexities of religious change over time. Thus alongside a graph showing a meteoric rise in the numbers of Baha'is in America since 1970, the authors point to other charts demonstrating the numeric decline of traditional religions in the same period and postulate that ""people often look to alternative religious expressions when more traditional options are languishing."" Special maps elucidate denominational predominance be region, the religious affiliations of members of Congress and the proliferation of religious place names, among many other considerations. This eminently useful, visually stunning atlas speaks eloquently of America's history of religious faith. (Jan.) Forecast: This book was one of the most talked-about forthcoming titles at last month's American Academy of Religion annual meeting in Nashville. It will enjoy significant sales in the library market, of course, but also has potential among individual scholars and clergy, to whom Oxford has been offering a discounted promotional price.
Reviewed on: 01/15/2001
Release date: 01/01/2001
Genre: Religion
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