cover image America’s Pastor: Billy Graham and the Shaping of a Nation

America’s Pastor: Billy Graham and the Shaping of a Nation

Grant Wacker. Belknap, $27.95 (408p) ISBN 978-0-674-05218-5

For more than 50 years, evangelist Billy Graham filled stadiums and arenas with his evangelistic speeches, transforming the lives of the millions who attended. In this elegantly written and compulsively readable account, Wacker (Heaven Below), professor of Christian history at Duke Divinity School and an eminent historian of American religion, probes the ways that Graham touched so many so deeply while aiming to provide the moral voice for a nation. Interweaving biography with social and intellectual history, Wacker suggests that Graham’s brilliance shone brightly from his many facets—preacher, pastor, Southerner, and entrepreneur, among others—and so his hearers had many ways to see themselves reflected in him. In the end, Wacker points out that Graham’s pragmatic vision of an America that’s true to its ideals enabled him to adapt trends in the wider culture for his own evangelistic and moral-reform purposes. Graham challenged Americans to “live up to their self-professed values of biblical equality, moral integrity, and social compassion… (he) touched their memories and called them to be the people they knew they ought to be.” (Nov.)