"The Sword of the Lord" by Andrew Himes
While separation of church and state exists in the United States today, a look at the culture and politics of the country shows that religion still has a major influence in society. This is because religion and history will forever be tied together in the US. When you look at the history of immigration and expansion, the Civil War, the Civil Rights Movement and other critical time periods, Christianity is heavily linked to the mood and actions of the times.
In The Sword of the Lord: The Roots of Fundamentalism in an American Family, Andrew Himes lays out this connection between US history and religion in an easy to read and gripping manner. Himes is the perfect person to tell the story - his grandfather, John R. Rice, was a leading fundamentalist and editor of the popular The Sword of the Lord newspaper.
Anyone interested in the history of the United States and the role Christianity played in its development will find this book invaluable. From the immigration of the Scots-Irish in the 19th century (bringing with them the Calvinist religion) to the religious struggle between abolitionists and slaveowners and the development of post-civil war fundamentalism to the rise of the moral majority in the 1970's, Andrew Himes has everything covered.
With all of that it would be understandable to expect the book to be academic or dry but it is far from that. This book is highly engaging, and whether you have no knowledge of American history or a degree in history you will learn something new.
Himes writes the book from his own perspective, both as a child growing up in a family of fundamentalist preachers and as a teenager and adult who questions the inconsistencies of the movement and searches for life meaning in many different places outside of religion. Few other people could give such insight into this movement. This book is honest and fair - while he may disagree with much of what was taught he is still respectful of the people and movement.
This book is not just for those interested in fundamental Christianity, it is for anyone interested in the history of the United States. This book will give you great insight into how the country has gotten to where it is and the way in which Christianity will forever play an important role in the United States.