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Red-Hot and Righteous: The Urban Religion of The Salvation Army [Paperback]

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Item Number 153493  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   304
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.13" Width: 6.05" Height: 0.79"
Weight:   1.05 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Oct 2, 2000
Publisher   Harvard University Press
ISBN  0674003969  
EAN  9780674003965  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...

In this engrossing study of religion, urban life, and commercial culture, Diane Winston shows how a (self-styled "red-hot") militant Protestant mission established a beachhead in the modern city. When The Salvation Army, a British evangelical movement, landed in New York in 1880, local citizens called its eye-catching advertisements "vulgar" and dubbed its brass bands, female preachers, and overheated services "sensationalist." Yet a little more than a century later, this ragtag missionary movement had evolved into the nation's largest charitable fund-raiser--the very exemplar of America's most cherished values of social service and religious commitment.

Winston illustrates how the Army borrowed the forms and idioms of popular entertainments, commercial emporiums, and master marketers to deliver its message. In contrast to histories that relegate religion to the sidelines of urban society, her book shows that Salvationists were at the center of debates about social services for the urban poor, the changing position of women, and the evolution of a consumer culture. She also describes Salvationist influence on contemporary life--from the public's post-World War I (and ongoing) love affair with the doughnut to the Salvationist young woman's career as a Hollywood icon to the institutionalization of religious ideals into nonsectarian social programs.

Winston's vivid account of a street savvy religious mission transformed over the decades makes adroit use of performance theory and material culture studies to create an evocative portrait of a beloved yet little understood religious movement. Her book provides striking evidence that, counter to conventional wisdom, religion was among the seminal social forces that shaped modern, urban America--and, in the process, found new expression for its own ideals.

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More About Diane Winston

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Winston is a Research Fellow at the Center for Media, Culture, and Historyat New York University.

Diane H. Winston currently resides in the state of New York. Diane H. Winston was born in 1951.

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Product Categories
1Books > Subjects > History > Americas > United States > 20th Century > General   [2671  similar products]
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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Gracefully written, but lacking in focus.  Dec 2, 2001
Is this book an organizational history of the Salvation Army? Is it about the Army as an urban religious phenomenon? Is it about the Army's use of the methods of popular entertainment in order to draw attention, converts, and public support? Is it about the power of women within the Salvation Army? Is it a discussion of how the public perception of the Army (and the women in it)changed between 1880 and 1940?

"Red Hot and Righteous" tries to be all of these and more, but unfortunately it doesn't work. As a popular history, this is pleasant enough reading, but as a scholarly work it is maddeningly diffuse. Winston's thesis is ill-defined, she fails to address the existing literature on the Salvation Army, and she has no evident theoretical approach. While she addresses the power women had within the Salvation Army, as a feminist history "Red Hot and Righteous" lacks teeth because Winston turns her focus elsewhere rather than fully developing her discussion of women's roles.

Winston also uses a very limited range of sources. When presenting the Army's side of the story she leans very heavily on the 'American War Cry'--the Army's own paper. The 'AWC' was sold to the general public to raise funds, and it was thus intended to present the Army and its activities in the best possible light. For an outsider's view of the Salvation Army she relies overwhelmingly on one newspaper--the 'New York Times.' What about ethnic newspapers? What about papers that found their audience primarily among the poor and working class? What did the people the Army aimed its evangelical and charitable activities at think of these predominantly middle-class do-gooders?

Winston writes very well, and she gives the Salvation Army the respectful treatment it deserves. But as an academic work, "Red Hot and Righteous" fails to gel. By narrowing her argument and focusing on a specific issue--women's roles and leadership within the Army, the use of popular culture as an evangelical tool, changing depictions of Salvation Army women in books and popular entertainment--and expanding the types of sources used, Winston could have broken new ground. Unfortunately, she keeps stabbing her spade with too little force in too many different places, and as a result she only raises a bit of dust. While I would still recommend this book for a general readership, as a scholar I found it unfocused and ultimately unsatisfying.

Where do I sign up?  Nov 18, 2001
I thought this back was very interesting. It presents the history of the Salvation Army from its inception in England in the nineteenth century through a good part of the twentieth century. Its focus is on the female leadership. It is interesting to note that though men are mentioned in the text, they are only briefly so. You learn a lot about the Booth women and their role in the Army but little about what their husbands where doing. It is a positive perspective of the movement and the ways in which it has helped Americans both here and abroad during the World Wars.

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