American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers, and the Making of a Nation
Jon Meacham / Author, Grover Gardner / Read by Random House Au
Newsweek editor Meacham asserts at the start of this treatise on religion and its role in the nation's development: ""If totalitarianism was the great problem of the twentieth century, then extremism is so far the great problem of the twenty-first century."" Veteran narrator Gardner adopts an appropriate, professorial tone for the material, but the topic itself would have been better suited to an essay or an abridged audio. Meacham's discussion, while compelling when focused on the founding fathers and the middle ground that they sought in their dealings with faith and freedom, falters when he discusses later presidents and their religious views. In these segments, not even Gardner's charismatic delivery is sufficient to enliven the material, which meanders from references to God in Lincoln's inaugural address to Theodore Roosevelt's emphasis on ""good works"" and Woodrow Wilson's ""ministerial zeal."" However, Meacham's argument for a ""sensible center"" in religion and politics rings through loud and clear, and this rallying message, combined with his vivid re-creation of the nation's founding, may make it worthwhile for some listeners.
Reviewed on: 04/03/2006