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.
"[Wuthnow's] goal is to explain the pitch, moral tone, sharp focus, and sheer loudness of Texas politics as a product of Texas religion. . . . Rough Country is chock-a-block with facts and numbers."--Thomas Powers, New York Review of Books
"The great strength of Rough Country is the author's resolute commitment to exploring subtle distinctions. . . . Mr. Wuthnow's thoughtful, careful account is a valuable addition to America's endless church-and-state debates."--Erica Grieder, Wall Street Journal
"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
"In Rough Country, Wuthnow draws on an Everest of data to provide a comprehensive analysis of the connections between religion, race, and politics in the state that has given us Lyndon Johnson, George W. Bush, Ted Cruz, Roe v. Wade, FreedomWorks, a key sponsor of the Tea Party, and secessionist threats."--Glenn Altschuler, Huffington Post
Table of Contents
Other Princeton books authored or coauthored by Robert Wuthnow: