Protestants Abroad

Protestants Abroad How Missionaries Tried to Change the World but Changed America David A. Hollinger

"Rich with illuminating portraits of persons and ideas, this analytically pointed and historically nuanced book provides a riveting look at the complex missionary project to build a global human community. Hollinger explores how this multidimensional endeavor grappled with human difference and vexing political conflicts abroad and at home, and illuminates how its principals navigated the boundaries between 'us' and 'them, ' the spiritual and the secular, the universal and the particular."--Ira Katznelson, author of Fear Itself: The New Deal and the Origins of Our Time

"Protestants Abroad is one of those rare books that slices American society in a way that hardly anyone--certainly no one of Hollinger's intellectual breadth--has thought to cut the cake before. He convincingly shows how the descendants of overseas missionaries have been influential far out of proportion to their numbers, and have possessed a deeper understanding than most Americans of other peoples and cultures."--Adam Hochschild, author of Spain in Our Hearts: Americans in the Spanish Civil War, 1936--1939

"Hollinger tells an astonishing, counterintuitive story of how American Protestant missionaries went abroad armed with a radical egalitarian ideology and eventually came home to spread the gospel of multiculturalism, racial equality, and human rights. With verve and passion, he shines a brilliant light on their long-overlooked influence, showing how they transformed American society in ways we have not fully realized."--Kai Bird, coauthor of the Pulitzer Prize-winning American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer

"In this fascinating, important, and beautifully conceived work, David Hollinger shows that Protestant missionaries intending to bring Christianity to foreign peoples instead brought what they had learned about the humanity of others to American religious thought, social justice work, academic fields, and U.S. international affairs. Highly recommended."--Mary L. Dudziak, author of War Time: An Idea, Its History, Its Consequences

"The eminent intellectual historian David Hollinger restores liberal Protestants to their rightful place at the center of the history of struggles for rights, self-determination, and dignity at home and abroad. American missionaries' encounters with the world, Hollinger persuasively argues, challenged their most fundamental assumptions about the United States, undermining American parochialism and exceptionalism, and reshaping American culture and politics. This is an important book."--Thomas J. Sugrue, author of Sweet Land of Liberty: The Forgotten Struggle for Civil Rights in the North

"Between the end of the Civil War and the beginning of the Second World War, thousands of American missionaries, many animated by the social gospel, spread across the world. Their children came back to the United States, where they exerted an outsized influence on American foreign policy and shaped new forms of cosmopolitanism. Hollinger's illuminating study offers a fascinating account of an overlooked legacy."--Jill Lepore, author of The Secret History of Wonder Woman

"Writing with eloquence and confidence, Hollinger convincingly argues that the Protestant U.S. missionary experience had a surprisingly large and pervasive impact on American culture, politics, and society in the middle decades of the twentieth century. This is a much-needed book, with many masterful insights."--Ian Tyrrell, author of Reforming the World: The Creation of America's Moral Empire

"This learned book redresses a significant gap in the history of religion and U.S. intellectual history. Remarkably researched and beautifully written, Protestants Abroad shows how missionary-connected individuals shaped our understandings of social justice, American power, and domestic politics."--Melani McAlister, author of Epic Encounters: Culture, Media, and U.S. Interests in the Middle East since 1945


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Princeton University Press

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