Those familiar with the uneven quality of existing biographies and autobiographies of modern American religious celebrities will be especially grateful for the critical comments and reliable information in this engaging volume. Choice
Despite its pervasive influence, popular or non-official religion in twentieth-century America has been largely ignored by scholars. This book is the first biographical reference to be published on the subject. It examines the lives and careers of more than sixty notable individuals who have helped to shape popular religious sentiment in this century, including radio and television preachers, inspirational writers, gospel songwriter-performers, mass revivalists, and leaders of religious movements that cut across denominational lines.
In his introduction, Lippy discusses the eclectic and individualistic character of popular religion, its impact on American attitudes and behavior, and critical approaches to interpreting and understanding it. Each essay offers a brief biography followed by a critical appraisal of the contribution of the subject and an assessment of relevant literature. Entries conclude with a selective bibliography. Cross-referencing and a comprehensive index are supplied. Combining the efforts of more than forty scholars, Lippy’s book is the first to give us a clear picture of the many different kinds of people who have left their mark on popular religious consciousness in the twentieth century. A useful reference for American studies, American religious history, popular culture studies, and related areas, this volume will also be of interest to general readers.