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The first comprehensive history of modern American evangelicalism to appear in a generation, American Apocalypse shows how a group of radical Protestants, anticipating the end of the world, paradoxically transformed it.

Matthew Avery Sutton draws on extensive archival research to document the ways an initially obscure network of charismatic preachers and their followers reshaped American religion, at home and abroad, for over a century. Perceiving the United States as besieged by Satanic forces--communism and secularism, family breakdown and government encroachment--Billy Sunday, Charles Fuller, Billy Graham, and others took to the pulpit and airwaves to explain how Biblical end-times prophecy made sense of a world ravaged by global wars, genocide, and the threat of nuclear extinction. Believing Armageddon was nigh, these preachers used what little time was left to warn of the coming Antichrist, save souls, and prepare the nation for God's final judgment.

By the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan and conservative Republicans appropriated evangelical ideas to create a morally infused political agenda that challenged the pragmatic tradition of governance through compromise and consensus. Following 9/11, the politics of apocalypse continued to resonate with an anxious populace seeking a roadmap through a world spinning out of control. Premillennialist evangelicals have erected mega-churches, shaped the culture wars, made and destroyed presidential hopefuls, and brought meaning to millions of believers. Narrating the story of modern evangelicalism from the perspective of the faithful, Sutton demonstrates how apocalyptic thinking continues to exert enormous influence over the American mainstream today.

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"American Apocalypse" will quickly become the definitive general account of evangelicalism s spectacular growth as a political and cultural force in the twentieth century. It is a brilliant book, sophisticated and compelling yet also lively and entertaining. With religion continuing to play a major role in American politics and culture, "American Apocalypse" is a must-read that will shed new light on the nation s past, present, and future.--Andrew Preston, author of "Sword of the Spirit, Shield of Faith: Religion in American War and Diplomacy"" "American Apocalypse" is a work of impressive erudition as well as a work of beauty. Arguing for the centrality in the American evangelical tradition of ideas about how the world will end, Sutton embeds the narrative in twentieth-century U.S. and international political history in a way that few American religious historians have been able to do.--Grant Wacker, author of "America's Pastor: Billy Graham and the Shaping of a Nation" Gives us our first good account of how and why evangelical political views developed the way they did.--Michael S. Hamilton"Christian Century" (10/15/2014) An important story, and it is exceedingly well told.--Christopher McConnell"Booklist" (11/15/2014) In this sweeping history, Sutton (a historian and biographer of Pentecostal evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson) argues that apocalyptic fervor exercised an underappreciated influence on believers, churches, and institutions, helping to propel the evangelical resurgence after World War II and continuing to shape the movement ever since.--Matt Reynolds"Christianity Today" (12/01/2014) "American Apocalypse" relentlessly and impressively shows how evangelicals have interpreted almost every domestic or international crisis in relation to Christ s return and his judgment upon the wicked Sutton sees one of the most troubling aspects of evangelical influence in the spread of the apocalyptic outlook among Republican politicians with the rise of the Religious Right "American Apocalypse" clearly shows just how popular evangelical apocalypticism has been and, during the Cold War, how the combination of odd belief and political power could produce a sleepless night or two.--D. G. Hart"Wall Street Journal" (01/20/2015)" Sutton [has] written [an] important book that deserve to be read by anyone seeking to understand not only American church history but contemporary American culture and politics.--Paul Richardson"Church of England Newspaper" (02/06/2015) Fascinating Sutton has produced one of those rare books that is both academically rigorous and a very good read Sutton explains how radical evangelical Christianity became associated with free market economics, an association now so established in the U.S. that it is difficult to imagine it could ever have been otherwise. He elucidates both how reliance on funding from wealthy business people has had a lot to do with this and how the theology led to it. The predominant view among pre-millennialists has always been that since the world is about to end there is no point in trying to improve it The defining episode in the political orientation of the movement was the election of F. D. Roosevelt as president on a platform of extensive government intervention in the economy that seemed to most evangelical Christians far too similar to the atheistic communism of the USSR. Opposition to the New Deal became a rallying point of the movement, and indeed one of its most outspoken preachers came close to identifying FDR as the Anti-Christ. (The reader comes away from this book marvelling at the ability of believers in prophecy to perceive the Anti-Christ in just about anything or anybody.) Since then this type of American Christianity has become inextricably linked with opposition to big government, high taxes and trade unionism. Though, as Sutton points out, such people have never seen any contradiction in demanding that the government intervene vigorously in the private lives of its citizens, along the moral lines of which they approve A central strength of the book is its careful analysis of racial differences and limitations within the radical evangelical movement. It was always dominated by white men and the racial divisions that became entrenched in the early part of the twentieth century are still present today.--Elaine Housby"LSE Review of Books" (02/03/2015)" "American Apocalypse "is the best history of American evangelicalism I ve read in some time. Sutton strews his chronicle with little pleasures If you want to understand why "compromise "has become a dirty word in the GOP today and how cultural politics is splitting the nation apart, "American Apocalypse "is an excellent place to start.--Stephen Prothero"Bookforum" (02/01/2015)" Sutton tells this story well. His key achievement is that he sticks to his brief, of showing that premillennialism has been central to modern Evangelicalism, and avoids narrating every aspect of the culture wars.--Theo Hobson"Times Literary Supplement" (07/03/2015) From the First World War through Cold War isolationism to the current culture wars, Sutton has charted the way radical evangelical beliefs in a premillennial return of Christ have influenced and been influenced by global events and American political culture. In this way, he serves students of history and religion seeking to reflect upon the social and political contribution of evangelical faith.--James Church"Reform" (04/01/2015) [A] valuable account of American premillennial evangelicalism... Sutton provides a wealth of documentation on premillennialists' prophetic speculation, self-presentation, and increasing importance over the last century.--Steve Young"Library Journal" (11/01/2014) Fascinating... Sutton has produced one of those rare books that is both academically rigorous and a very good read... Sutton explains how radical evangelical Christianity became associated with free market economics, an association now so established in the U.S. that it is difficult to imagine it could ever have been otherwise. He elucidates both how reliance on funding from wealthy business people has had a lot to do with this and how the theology led to it. The predominant view among pre-millennialists has always been that since the world is about to end there is no point in trying to improve it...The defining episode in the political orientation of the movement was the election of F. D. Roosevelt as president on a platform of extensive government intervention in the economy that seemed to most evangelical Christians far too similar to the atheistic communism of the USSR. Opposition to the New Deal became a rallying point of the movement, and indeed one of its most outspoken preachers came close to identifying FDR as the Anti-Christ. (The reader comes away from this book marvelling at the ability of believers in prophecy to perceive the Anti-Christ in just about anything or anybody.) Since then this type of American Christianity has become inextricably linked with opposition to big government, high taxes and trade unionism. Though, as Sutton points out, such people have never seen any contradiction in demanding that the government intervene vigorously in the private lives of its citizens, along the moral lines of which they approve...A central strength of the book is its careful analysis of racial differences and limitations within the radical evangelical movement. It was always dominated by white men and the racial divisions that became entrenched in the early part of the twentieth century are still present today.--Elaine Housby"LSE Review of Books" (02/03/2015) Sutton presents modern evangelicalism mainly through its most formidable preachers, the men who took full advantage of the media, especially radio and television when they became available, and books till then...Sutton brings to these strange episodes of American culture a proper degree of attentiveness and patience, with only a rare glint of irony breaking through.--Denis Donoghue"Irish Times" (01/04/2015) Sutton is interested in Christian apocalypticism not as a fringe movement but as a political and cultural force that transformed America...Sutton's book demonstrates that the history of evangelicalism, cynical and fatalistic as it may be, is very much our own.--Meghan O'Gieblyn"Boston Review" (03/16/2015) Sutton stitches together prophecy and politics in a compelling and original manner, adding a rich layer of original research...The result is a rich, amusing, and often sobering glimpse into the sometimes dark passions of American premillennialism.--John G. Turner"Books & Culture" (03/01/2015) [Sutton] trains his discerning eye on the rise of ardent prophecy belief in twentieth-century America. He's able to render his subject in fresh and arresting light by deliberately abjuring the well-worn catechisms of the culture wars.--Chris Lehmann"Raritan" (05/01/2015) American Apocalypse is the best history of American evangelicalism I've read in some time. Sutton strews his chronicle with little pleasures...If you want to understand why compromise has become a dirty word in the GOP today and how cultural politics is splitting the nation apart, American Apocalypse is an excellent place to start.--Stephen Prothero"Bookforum" (02/01/2015) It is to the great credit of Matthew Avery Sutton, an American historian who has spent the past seven years 'thinking about the end of the world, ' that we now have a concise, convincing and eminently readable account of the rise of the U.S. evangelical movement...In American Apocalypse, Sutton traces its improbably spread. It is a disquieting story filled with outrageous characters [and] jarring beliefs...[A] valuable, timely and often entertaining account.--Tony Allen-Mills"Sunday Times" (12/21/2014) American Apocalypse relentlessly and impressively shows how evangelicals have interpreted almost every domestic or international crisis in relation to Christ's return and his judgment upon the wicked...Sutton sees one of the most troubling aspects of evangelical influence in the spread of the apocalyptic outlook among Republican politicians with the rise of the Religious Right...American Apocalypse clearly shows just how popular evangelical apocalypticism has been and, during the Cold War, how the combination of odd belief and political power could produce a sleepless night or two.--D. G. Hart"Wall Street Journal" (01/20/2015) American Apocalypse will quickly become the definitive general account of evangelicalism's spectacular growth as a political and cultural force in the twentieth century. It is a brilliant book, sophisticated and compelling yet also lively and entertaining. With religion continuing to play a major role in American politics and culture, American Apocalypse is a must-read that will shed new light on the nation's past, present, and future.--Andrew Preston, author of Sword of the Spirit, Shield of Faith: Religion in American War and Diplomacy Sutton's ambitious book refocuses the history of twentieth-century evangelicalism on apocalypticism, offering a vivid account of how preoccupation with the end times provided the conceptual framework for evangelical political activism and stoked its emotional fervor. American Apocalypse shows brilliantly how a terror of impending doom was translated into politics on issues ranging from support for Israel to anti-abortion activism.--Robert A. Orsi, author of Thank You, St. Jude and The Madonna of 115th Street American Apocalypse is a work of impressive erudition as well as a work of beauty. Arguing for the centrality in the American evangelical tradition of ideas about how the world will end, Sutton embeds the narrative in twentieth-century U.S. and international political history in a way that few American religious historians have been able to do.--Grant Wacker, author of America's Pastor: Billy Graham and the Shaping of a Nation Sutton s ambitious book refocuses the history of twentieth-century evangelicalism on apocalypticism, offering a vivid account of how preoccupation with the end times provided the conceptual framework for evangelical political activism and stoked its emotional fervor. American Apocalypse shows brilliantly how a terror of impending doom was translated into politics on issues ranging from support for Israel to anti-abortion activism.--Robert A. Orsi, author of Thank You, St. Jude and The Madonna of 115th Street" Matthew Avery Sutton read just about everything that fundamentalists and evangelicals had to offer in preparation for his pointed argument in American Apocalypse premillennial dispensationalism pushed conservative Protestants into public, political, national, and international action. If you want to wrestle with evangelicals, read this book.--Edward J. Blum"Christian Century" (11/25/2014) Sutton tells this story well. His key achievement is that he sticks to his brief, of showing that premillennialism has been central to modern Evangelicalism, and avoids narrating every aspect of the culture wars.--Theo Hobson"Times Literary Supplement" (07/03/2015) [Sutton] trains his discerning eye on the rise of ardent prophecy belief in twentieth- century America. He s able to render his subject in fresh and arresting light by deliberately abjuring the well-worn catechisms of the culture wars.--Chris Lehmann"Raritan" (05/01/2015)" Sutton stitches together prophecy and politics in a compelling and original manner, adding a rich layer of original research The result is a rich, amusing, and often sobering glimpse into the sometimes dark passions of American premillennialism.--John G. Turner"Books & Culture" (03/01/2015)" Sutton is interested in Christian apocalypticism not as a fringe movement but as a political and cultural force that transformed America Sutton s book demonstrates that the history of evangelicalism, cynical and fatalistic as it may be, is very much our own.--Meghan O'Gieblyn"Boston Review" (03/16/2015)" It is to the great credit of Matthew Avery Sutton, an American historian who has spent the past seven years thinking about the end of the world, that we now have a concise, convincing and eminently readable account of the rise of the U.S. evangelical movement In American Apocalypse, Sutton traces its improbably spread. It is a disquieting story filled with outrageous characters [and] jarring beliefs [A] valuable, timely and often entertaining account.--Tony Allen-Mills"Sunday Times" (12/21/2014)" Sutton presents modern evangelicalism mainly through its most formidable preachers, the men who took full advantage of the media, especially radio and television when they became available, and books till then Sutton brings to these strange episodes of American culture a proper degree of attentiveness and patience, with only a rare glint of irony breaking through.--Denis Donoghue"Irish Times" (01/04/2015)" Fascinating Sutton has produced one of those rare books that is both academically rigorous and a very good read Sutton explains how radical evangelical Christianity became associated with free market economics, an association now so established in the U.S. that it is difficult to imagine it could ever have been otherwise. He elucidates both how reliance on funding from wealthy business people has had a lot to do with this and how the theology led to it. The predominant view among pre-millennialists has always been that since the world is about to end there is no point in trying to improve it The defining episode in the political orientation of the movement was the election of F. D. Roosevelt as president on a platform of extensive government intervention in the economy that seemed to most evangelical Christians far too similar to the atheistic communism of the USSR. Opposition to the New Deal became a rallying point of the movement, and indeed one of its most outspoken preachers came close to identifying FDR as the Anti-Christ. (The reader comes away from this book marvelling at the ability of believers in prophecy to perceive the Anti-Christ in just about anything or anybody.) Since then this type of American Christianity has become inextricably linked with opposition to big government, high taxes and trade unionism. Though, as Sutton points out, such people have never seen any contradiction in demanding that the government intervene vigorously in the private lives of its citizens, along the moral lines of which they approve A central strength of the book is its careful analysis of racial differences and limitations within the radical evangelical movement. It was always dominated by white men and the racial divisions that became entrenched in the early part of the twentieth century are still present today.--Elaine Housby"LSE Review of Books" (02/03/2015)" Sutton [has] written [an] important book that deserve to be read by anyone seeking to understand not only American church history but contemporary American culture and politics.--Paul Richardson"Church of England Newspaper" (02/06/2015) Sutton s ambitious book refocuses the history of twentieth-century evangelicalism on apocalypticism, offering a vivid account of how preoccupation with the end times provided the conceptual framework for evangelical political activism and stoked its emotional fervor. American Apocalypse shows brilliantly how a terror of impending doom was translated into politics on issues ranging from support for Israel to anti-abortion activism.--Robert A. Orsi, author of Thank You, St. Jude and The Madonna of 115th Street" In this sweeping history, Sutton (a historian and biographer of Pentecostal evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson) argues that apocalyptic fervor exercised an underappreciated influence on believers, churches, and institutions, helping to propel the evangelical resurgence after World War II and continuing to shape the movement ever since.--Matt Reynolds"Christianity Today" (12/01/2014) Matthew Avery Sutton read just about everything that fundamentalists and evangelicals had to offer in preparation for his pointed argument in American Apocalypse premillennial dispensationalism pushed conservative Protestants into public, political, national, and international action. If you want to wrestle with evangelicals, read this book.--Edward J. Blum"Christian Century" (11/25/2014)

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