Time to begin looking ahead at the books of 2006. Leading our first report on coming attractions is a new edition of George Marsden's Fundamentalism and American Culture (Oxford Univ. Press). The March/April issue of B&C features an excerpt. A book that may seem far afield but that in fact complements Marsden's landmark study is D. G. Hart's John Williamson Nevin: High Church Calvinist, just out this month from P&R. "However offbeat Nevin's thought may sometimes appear," Hart writes, "his assessment of popular Christianity in the United States was arguably the most astute from the perspective of historical Protestantism that any American Reformed or Presbyterian ever formulated." Quite a claim! Check it out.
One of the most anticipated books of the year is Harry Stout's Upon the Altar of the Nation: A Moral History of the Civil War, due any day now from Viking. Look for Edward Blum's review in our March/April issue. And save a place next to Stout for Mark Noll's The Civil War as a Theological Crisis (Univ. of North Carolina Press), coming in April and also to be reviewed in our pages.
As the grandson of missionaries to China (where my mother lived until the age of ten), I am interested in missionary biographies and memoirs. I've seen some essays by Tim Bascom that have whetted my enthusiasm for his book Chamelon Days: An American Boyhood in Ethiopia, coming from Houghton Mifflin in June. And speaking of biography, Michael Kazin's A Godly Hero: The Life of William Jennings Bryan is due next month from Knopf; that too will be covered in B&C.
The cover-package of our May/June issue will focus on preaching and the state of the pastorate. And the subject of preaching brings to mind At Canaan's Edge (Simon & Schuster), the concluding volume of Taylor Branch's trilogy on America in the era of Martin Luther King, Jr. Secrets in the Dark: A Life in Sermons, coming from HarperSanFrancisco in March, collects sermons by Frederick Buechner, some of them appearing in print for the first time.
Several years ago in the pages of Books & Culture, Alan Jacobs named Wole Soyinka and Czeslaw Milosz as the greatest living writers. Milosz has left this world, but the Nigerian Nobel laureate is still writing. A new memoir, You Must Set Forth at Dawn, is due in April from Random House.
A writer very different from Soyinka, but resembling him in his willingness to say what he thinks, is Harvey Mansfield, the distinguished professor of government at Harvard University. It's Yale University Press, however, that will be publishing Mansfield's Manliness in March. No doubt this book will be on Larry Summers' reading list. Also known for calling it as he sees it is Richard John Neuhaus, whose Catholic Matters: Confusion, Controversy, and the Splendor of Truth will be published in March by Basic Books.
Finally, if you are a fan of James Lee Burke's Dave Robicheaux, you are in luckbut you'll have to wait until July for Pegasus Descending (Simon & Schuster). It will be odd to read about Robicheaux post-Katrina.
We'll be back with more coming attractions down the road.
John Wilsonis editor of Books & Culture.
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The books above are available from Christianbook.com, Amazon.com, and other book retailers.
Books & Culture Corner and Books & Culture's Book of the Week, from Christianity Today sister publication Books & Culture: A Christian Review (want a free trial issue?), appears regularly on Tuesdays at Christianity Today. Earlier editions include:
Ring Out the Old Year | Some highly subjective awards for 2005. (Jan. 4, 2006)
Not Just Looking | Books for the eye. (Dec. 27, 2005)
The Top Ten Books of 2005 | A charming bedside miscellany, a new novel by P. D. James, and much more. (Dec. 20, 2005)
How to Survive a Bookalanche | Some more keepers from 2005. (Dec. 13, 2005)
'Tis the Season for Books (And Lists of Books) | Part one of our 2005 roundup. (Dec. 6, 2005)
Taizé in the Fall | A parable of community. (Nov. 29, 2005)
'Have Mercy on Me, O God' | A report from AAR/SBL. (Nov. 22, 2005)
The Shrine Next Door | A superb study of Chinese popular religion helps to set the context for the appeal of Christianity in China today. (Nov. 8, 2005)
Dissecting Divorce | A new book by Elizabeth Marquardt offers a child's-eye-view of divorce. (Oct. 25, 2005)
Heavenly Real Estate | A geography of art in New York at the midpoint of the 20th century. (Oct. 18, 2005)
Narnia Etc. | A chronicle of reading. (Oct. 11, 2005)
How Wide the Divide? | A proposal for compromise between "value evangelicals" and "legal secularists" on church-state issues. (Sept. 13, 2005)
For book lovers, our 2005 CT book awards are available online, along with our book awards for 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1998, and 1997, as well as our Books of the Twentieth Century. For other coverage or reviews, see our Books archive and the weekly Books & Culture Corner.