Tracing the intersection of religion, race, and power in Texas from Reconstruction through the rise of the Religious Right and the failed presidential bid of Governor Rick Perry, Rough Country illuminates American history since the Civil War in new ways, demonstrating that Texas’s story is also America’s. In particular, Robert Wuthnow shows how distinctions between “us” and “them” are perpetuated and why they are so often shaped by religion and politics.
Early settlers called Texas a rough country. Surviving there necessitated defining evil, fighting it, and building institutions in the hope of advancing civilization. Religion played a decisive role. Today, more evangelical Protestants live in Texas than in any other state. They have influenced every presidential election for fifty years, mobilized powerful efforts against abortion and same-sex marriage, and been a driving force in the Tea Party movement. And religion has always been complicated by race and ethnicity.
Drawing from memoirs, newspapers, oral history, voting records, and surveys, Rough Country tells the stories of ordinary men and women who struggled with the conditions they faced, conformed to the customs they knew, and on occasion emerged as powerful national leaders. We see the lasting imprint of slavery, public executions, Jim Crow segregation, and resentment against the federal government. We also observe courageous efforts to care for the sick, combat lynching, provide for the poor, welcome new immigrants, and uphold liberty of conscience.
A monumental and magisterial history, Rough Country is as much about the rest of America as it is about Texas.
Robert Wuthnow is the Gerhard R. Andlinger ’52 Professor of Social Sciences and director of the Center for the Study of Religion at Princeton University. He is the author of many books, including Small-Town America, Red State Religion, and Remaking the Heartland (all Princeton).
"Anyone seeking to examine the relationship between modern American religious conservatism and politics needs to look no further than Wuthnow's authoritative, encyclopedic survey of Texas's influence on national trends."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"In this brilliantly detailed book, Wuthnow draws on newspapers, eyewitness accounts and archival material as well as sociological theory, showing how notions of self and other emerged through institution-building practices that helped define Texan (and ultimately, national) identity."--Kirkus
“Robert Wuthnow has never shied away from tackling big subjects, but this sweeping, detailed, complex, yet flowing account and analysis of more than 150 years of religion, race, politics, and social change in Texas must rank among the very best of his many books. And while Texans often think of ourselves as living in ‘a whole ’nuther country,’ Wuthnow deftly shows that what happens in Texas doesn’t stay in Texas.”—William Martin, Rice University’s Baker Institute
“This is a rich history of Texas presented with a sociologist’s keen eye for communities, institutions, legal processes, and social variables. The book is even more valuable for narrating the connections among race, religion, and politics that make Texas both singular in itself and representative of the nation as a whole. Rough Country is a splendid achievement.”—Mark A. Noll, author of God and Race in American Politics: A Short History
Table of Contents
Other Princeton books authored or coauthored by Robert Wuthnow: