Eager reader of history, mystery, classics, biographies, steampunk, lit fic, science, scifi, and etc. My reviews are mostly positive--I rarely finish or write about books I don't enjoy. My TBR is too high for that.
I found this book about the history, evolution, and religious background of American liberal thought quite interesting--interesting enough that I kept bringing up things I read in conversation--but The Religion of Democracy is also very challenging. The reading was difficult enough that there was no sitting down and breezing through a chapter, and I regularly had to go over sentences two or three times to get their meaning. While I don’t think the material necessitated hard to parse writing, the insights the book offers made the extra effort well worth it. My copy of the book practically flutters, it has so many post-flags marking passages I wanted to be able to find again easily.
Each of the seven chapters focuses on one person, stretching in time from John Adams to Jane Addams and including William Channing, William James, and an aunt of Ralph Waldo Emerson among the seven, but unlike traditional biographies their lives are used to illuminate the philosophical, political, and religious controversies of their day, in which they all played some kind of active roll. I found this construction very helpful, and having “characters” to trace the arc of liberal thought made the demanding material much more engaging. A “slow and steady” read for me, but being interested in American history, political philosophy, and trends in religious belief I enjoyed the book immensely.