New Books Network

Jay Rubenstein, “Armies of Heaven: The First Crusade and the Quest for Apocalypse” (Basic Books, 2011)
You’ve got to be pretty creative to get anything like “holy war” out of the New Testament, what with all that trespass-forgiving, cheek-turning, and neighbor-loving. By all appearances Jesus didn’t want his followers to fight for their faith, but rather to die for it as he had. And during the... Read More
Douglas Rogers, “The Old Faith and the Russian Land: A Historical Ethnography of Ethics in the Urals” (Cornell UP, 2009)
What are ethics? What are morals? How are they constituted, practiced, and regulated? How do they change over time? My own research is informed by these question; so is Douglas Rogers‘. So it was only natural that I would be drawn to Rogers’ new book The Old Faith and the... Read More
Laurie Manchester, “Holy Fathers, Secular Sons: Clergy, Intelligentsia, and the Modern Self in Revolutionary Russia” (NI UP, 2008)
The lives, let alone the fates, of Imperial Russia’s priesthood have garnered little attention among historians. I think the reason is partially because the research of most Russian historians has been focused on explaining the country’s torturous modernization. The orthodox clergy were hardly (so the story goes) modernizers, so they... Read More
Kip Kosek, “Acts of Conscience: Christian Nonviolence and Modern American Democracy” (Columbia UP, 2010)
There’s a quip that goes “Christianity is probably a great religion. Someone should really try it.” The implication, of course, is that most people who call themselves Christians aren’t very Christian at all. And, in truth, it’s hard to be a good Christian, what with all that loving your enemies,... Read More
Brett Whalen, “Dominion of God: Christendom and Apocalypse in the Middle Ages” (Harvard UP, 2009)
In the Gospels, the disciples come to Jesus and ask him about the End of Days. He’s got bad news and good. First, everything was going to go hell, so to say: “And Jesus answered . . . many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall... Read More
J. D. Bowers, “Joseph Priestley and English Unitarianism in America” (Penn State University Press, 2007)
Today we talk to J. D. Bowers of Northern Illinois University about his book Joseph Priestley and English Unitarianism in America (Pennsylvania State University Press, 2007). Against the received wisdom, Bowers argues that American Unitarianism did not emerge solely from indigenous Boston-based Congregationalism. Instead, he shows that Joseph Priestly and... Read More