In September, Cambridge University Press will release American Jewry: A New History by Eli Lederhendler (Hebrew University). The publisher’s description follows:
Understanding the history of Jews in America requires a synthesis of over 350 years of documents, social data, literature and journalism, architecture, oratory, and debate, and each time that history is observed, new questions are raised and new perspectives found. This book presents a readable account of that history, with an emphasis on migration patterns, social and religious life, and political and economic affairs. It explains the long-range development of American Jewry as the product of ‘many new beginnings’ more than a direct evolution leading from early colonial experiments to latter-day social patterns. This book also shows that not all of American Jewish history has occurred on American soil, arguing that Jews, more than most other Americans, persist in assigning crucial importance to international issues. This approach provides a fresh perspective that can open up the practice of minority-history writing, so that the very concepts of minority and majority should not be taken for granted.
In November, Yale University Press will release Surge of Piety: Norman Vincent Peale and the Remaking of American Religious Life by Christopher Lane (Northwestern University). The publisher’s description follows:
The dramatic, untold story of how Norman Vincent Peale and a handful of conservative allies fueled the massive rise of religiosity in the United States during the 1950s
Near the height of Cold War hysteria, when the threat of all-out nuclear war felt real and perilous, Presbyterian minister Norman Vincent Peale published The Power of Positive Thinking. Selling millions of copies worldwide, the book offered a gospel of self-assurance in an age of mass anxiety.
Despite Peale’s success and his ties to powerful conservatives such as Dwight D. Eisenhower, J. Edgar Hoover, and Joseph McCarthy, the full story of his movement has never been told. Christopher Lane shows how the famed minister’s brand of Christian psychology inflamed the nation’s religious revival by promoting the concept that belief in God was essential to the health and harmony of all Americans. We learn in vivid detail how Peale and his powerful supporters orchestrated major changes in a nation newly defined as living “under God.” This blurring of the lines between religion and medicine would reshape religion as we know it in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.