Synopses & Reviews
"Robert Wuthnow has never shied away from tackling big subjects, but this sweeping, detailed, complex, yet flowing account and analysis of more than 150 years of religion, race, politics, and social change in Texas must rank among the very best of his many books. And while Texans often think of ourselves as living in 'a whole 'nuther country,' Wuthnow deftly shows that what happens in Texas doesn't stay in Texas."--William Martin, Rice University's Baker Institute
"This is a rich history of Texas presented with a sociologist's keen eye for communities, institutions, legal processes, and social variables. The book is even more valuable for narrating the connections among race, religion, and politics that make Texas both singular in itself and representative of the nation as a whole. Rough Country is a splendid achievement."--Mark A. Noll, author of God and Race in American Politics: A Short History
"In this meticulously researched and beautifully written book, Robert Wuthnow offers a sweeping history of Texas's unrivaled place in American civil religion. Addressing topics as varied as presidential politics, race and religion, and demographic change since the nineteenth century, Rough Country teaches us not only about one of the nation's most intriguing--and in some ways, surprising--states but also about the nation as a whole. This nuanced, fascinating volume should be in the hands of everyone who wants to understand the place of public faith in our world today."--D. Michael Lindsay, president of Gordon College
"With characteristic precision and authority, Robert Wuthnow offers a conclusive account of how and why Texas has so profoundly defined modern American religion and politics. From his exhaustive research in a sweeping range of sources, he draws out one illustrative character and colorful anecdote after another, and combines them with incisive analysis of sociological data to create a compelling portrait of the Lone Star State's ascent. A good read as much as an exceptional piece of scholarship, Rough Country proves that as Texas has gone, so has the nation."--Darren Dochuk, author of From Bible Belt to Sunbelt
"This book tells a story that hasn't been told before. Writing in an engaging narrative style, Robert Wuthnow describes the major events and religious currents in U.S. history over the past century and a half as they played out in Texas. The book will appeal to anyone interested in U.S. history or in how religion and race intersected with events in America's past."--Helen Rose Ebaugh, University of Houston
"Wuthnow, the director of the Center for the Study of Religion at Princeton University, argues that Texas, dubbed 'rough country' by its first European explorers, has become conservative state most influential in shaping the nation's culture, values, and politics. Armed with a wealth of information gathered from news accounts, oral histories, government records, and census data, Wuthnow concludes that Texas, with its wealth and sheer numbers of conservative Protestant voters, evolved from a bastion of frontier justice into a powerhouse of traditional moralism on such hot-button issues as vice, abortion, homosexuality, immigration, and race. Mostly refugees from the Deep South, early Texans embraced religion as a spiritual gauge for their daily lives, but their harsh attitudes toward race and equal rights remained largely unchanged until President Lyndon Johnson, a Texan, signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Wuthnow provides perspective on the political clout of clergy reformers and activists, starting with the electoral triumphs of J.F.K., L.B.J., Ann Richards, Ronald Reagan, and George W. Bush, all of whom courted the pious Texans to gain votes. Anyone seeking to examine the relationship between modern American religious conservatism and politics needs to look no further than Wuthnow's authoritative, encyclopedic survey of Texas's influence on national trends. (Aug.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Tracing the intersection of religion, race, and power in Texas from Reconstruction through the rise of the Religious Right and the failed presidential bid of Governor Rick Perry, Rough Country
illuminates American history since the Civil War in new ways, demonstrating that Texas's story is also America's. In particular, Robert Wuthnow shows how distinctions between "us" and "them" are perpetuated and why they are so often shaped by religion and politics.
Early settlers called Texas a rough country. Surviving there necessitated defining evil, fighting it, and building institutions in the hope of advancing civilization. Religion played a decisive role. Today, more evangelical Protestants live in Texas than in any other state. They have influenced every presidential election for fifty years, mobilized powerful efforts against abortion and same-sex marriage, and been a driving force in the Tea Party movement. And religion has always been complicated by race and ethnicity.
Drawing from memoirs, newspapers, oral history, voting records, and surveys, Rough Country tells the stories of ordinary men and women who struggled with the conditions they faced, conformed to the customs they knew, and on occasion emerged as powerful national leaders. We see the lasting imprint of slavery, public executions, Jim Crow segregation, and resentment against the federal government. We also observe courageous efforts to care for the sick, combat lynching, provide for the poor, welcome new immigrants, and uphold liberty of conscience.
A monumental and magisterial history, Rough Country is as much about the rest of America as it is about Texas.
About the Author
Robert Wuthnow is the Gerhard R. Andlinger 52 Professor of Social Sciences and director of the Center for the Study of Religion at Princeton University. He is the author of many books, including Small-Town America, Red State Religion, and Remaking the Heartland (all Princeton).
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 In Rough Country 14
Bringing Order to the New Frontier
Chapter 2 For the Advance of Civilization 51
Institution Building and Moral Character
Chapter 3 With Liberty of Conscience 88
Defining the Separation of Church and State
Chapter 4 The Fundamentalist Belt 121
Coming to Terms with Science
Chapter 5 From Judge Lynch to Jim Crow 154
Celebrating Limited Inclusion
Chapter 6 A Load Too Heavy 196
Religion and the Debate over Government Relief
Chapter 7 Moving onto the National Stage 225
Everything Is Big
Chapter 8 Meanest, Dirtiest, Low-Down Stuff 269
The Politics of Tumult
Chapter 9 Power to the People 303
Framing the Issues, Taking Sides
Chapter 10 God Can Save Us 325
The Campaign for a Moral America
Chapter 11 In a Compassionate Way 369
Connecting Faith and Politics
Chapter 12 An Independent Lot 409
Religion and Grassroots Activism
Chapter 13 Afterword 448
Religion and the Politics of Identity
Selected Bibliography 593