The American Bible

The American Bible

How Our Words Unite, Divide, and Define a Nation

By Stephen Prothero

HarperOne, Paperback, 9780062123459, 533pp.

Publication Date: January 2013


The New York Times bestselling author of Religious Literacy and God Is Not One presents a provocative crash course in the great American scripturesthose texts that have both divided and defined our understanding of what it is to be American. Stephen Prothero gives readers an exciting and user-friendly introduction to American cultural history in The American Bible. Highlighting the touchstones of our collective cultural legacy, from Thomas Paines Common Sense to Maya Lins Vietnam Veterans Memorial; from the speeches of Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan to the novels of Mark Twain and Ayn Rand, and beyond, Protheros stirring and provocative handbook peels back the curtain on the inner workings of what makes America tick.

About the Author
STEPHEN PROTHERO is the New York Times bestselling author of Religious Literacy and God Is Not One, a professor of religion at Boston University, and a senior fellow at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History in Washington D.C. His work has been featured on the cover of Time magazine, The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, National Public Radio, and other top national media outlets. He blogs for CNN's Belief Blog and writes for the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, USA Today, The Washington Post, and other publications. Visit the author online at

Praise For The American Bible

“In these pages Stephen Prothero has brilliantly captured the American spirit-a spirit that has always seen us through hours of division and disagreement. With Prothero’s expert analysis, these texts should spark civil conversation, informed debate, and intelligent discussion.”
--Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of American Lion.

“There are certain speeches, songs, books, letters, laws, and axioms that Americans honor enough to argue about, says religion scholar Stephen Prothero. Like the Declaration of Independence, this almost consecrated canon inspires endless commentary about what it means to be American-and what ‘America’ means.”
-Religion News Service

“Required for putting in one place so many historic pieces that are more opined over than actually read. Awesome scholarship to an admirable purpose.”
-Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

The American Bible is a provocative, brilliantly realized illumination of American values by means of excerpted historical documents.”
-Colloquy, Harvard University

In The American Bible, Prothero has turned his considerable talents to assembling a version of the American canon. The author’s prose is, as usual, spritely, informed and incisive.”
-Washington Post