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Stunning new narrative. . .

Joel Wentz, The Englewood Review of Books, Feature Review

. . . Kristin Kobes Du Mez’s stunning new narrative history of the last century of white American evangelicalism. Du Mez’s writing is lively and well-researched, her critiques both fair and unsparing, and her historical analysis perceptive and devastating.

Tracking the myriad ways in which evangelical leaders have referred to John Wayne in books, sermons, or political speeches through the decades, Du Mez makes a convincing case that he embodied a “shared masculine ideal” (31) that would go on to animate evangelical culture and activism. John Wayne was not the cause, but he is an effective symbol, and a surprisingly effective through-line for the book.

Du Mez’s research is also deep.

Finally, the historical connections Du Mez articulates are enlightening. . . . The takeaway is a cohesive and sobering account of how the election of 2016 actually represented “a culmination of [evangelicals] half-century-long pursuit of a militant Christian masculinity.” (271) From John Wayne to Donald Trump, a shockingly consistent thread can be followed.

Jesus and John Wayne is an absolute must-read, a stunning work, and one that deserves serious attention and further conversation.

Published September 24, 2020.

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