The Great Awakening
The Roots of Evangelical Christianity in Colonial America
By Thomas S. Kidd
(Yale University Press, Hardcover, 9780300118872, 416pp.)
Publication Date: November 2007
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
In the mid-eighteenth century, Americans experienced an outbreak of religious revivals that shook colonial society. This book provides a definitive view of these revivals, now known as the First Great Awakening, and their dramatic effects on American culture. Historian Thomas S. Kidd tells the absorbing story of early American evangelical Christianity through the lives of seminal figures like Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield as well as many previously unknown preachers, prophets, and penitents.
The Great Awakening helped create the evangelical movement, which heavily emphasized the individual’s experience of salvation and the Holy Spirit’s work in revivals. By giving many evangelicals radical notions of the spiritual equality of all people, the revivals helped breed the democratic style that would come to characterize the American republic. Kidd carefully separates the positions of moderate supporters of the revivals from those of radical supporters, and he delineates the objections of those who completely deplored the revivals and their wildly egalitarian consequences. The battles among these three camps, the author shows, transformed colonial America and ultimately defined the nature of the evangelical movement.
Thomas S. Kidd is associate professor of history, Baylor University, and author of The Protestant Interest: New England after Puritanism, published by Yale University Press. He lives in Woodway, TX.
"Well researched, clearly written and authoritatively argued. There is no book of comparable breadth, either chronologically or geographically."—Mark Noll, University of Notre Dame
“It has been fifty years since Edwin Gaustad told the history of New England’s Great Awakening, and, since then, the revivals themselves have at times been almost lost sight of in debates about the fictions of memory and the invention of tradition. Thomas Kidd’s narrative, returning squarely to the formative events and factions that shaped early evangelicalism, offers a valuable synoptic account of the beginnings of this continuously important movement.”—Leigh E. Schmidt, Princeton University
-Leigh E. Schmidt
“An informed and much-needed synthesis of the events that comprise the ‘Great Awakening.’ Judiciously describes evangelical efforts from Nova Scotia to Georgia over the entire eighteenth century and demonstrates the centrality of these revivals to an understanding of the American mind. Kidd’s book will become the standard introduction to its subject.”—Philip F. Gura, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
-Philip F. Gura
“With this deeply researched and beautifully focused study of the origins of American evangelicalism, Thomas Kidd gives us nothing less than a fresh, post-revisionist understanding of the Great Awakening. But that is not all. By casting a powerful light upon the controversies at the outset of the evangelical movement, particularly those revolving around the third person of the Trinity, he illuminates the rest of that movement’s conflicted history, providing insight into its enduring complexities, and its likely manifestations in the century ahead.”—Wilfred McClay, author of The Masterless: Self and Society in Modern America
“Despite the prodigious attention to the ‘Great Awakening’ in eighteenth-century America, there has been, amazingly, no modern comprehensive account that looks at all regions from Nova Scotia to Georgia. The result is a highly fragmented series of vignettes and biographies with no overarching narrative. That void has now been more than filled by Thomas Kidd''s masterful analysis of the eighteenth-century revivals and the ‘evangelical’ movement they spawned. Thoroughly researched and beautifully written, this book is must reading not only for early American historians, but for anyone concerned to understand the origins of modern evangelicalism.”—Harry S. Stout, Yale University
-Harry S. Stout
"This monograph sheds important light on the origins of evangelicalism in the US. . . . Recommended."—Choice
"An important and impressive piece of scholarship and is bound to become the first point of reference for a generation of students at all levels who are seeking to make some sense of an intriguing cast of characters and set of events."—Linford D. Fisher, New England Quarterly
-Linford D. Fisher
". . . a book to end all books on the Great Awakening, substituting a powerful new force in American Christianity: evangelicalism. . . . [A] probing and persuasive book. . . . Throughout this fine book, the reader has not been cheated in any way, only richly rewarded."—Edwin S. Gaustad, Catholic Historical Review
-Edwin S. Gaustad
"A compelling, clear narrative. . . . He succeeds dramatically."—Caleb Maskell. Journal of Religion