The value of this book lies not only in its readability and scope, but in its innovation. . . . Concise but amazingly comprehensive in its inclusion of the important movements, personalities, and issues unique to religion in the American West. . . . It is a must for the libraries of all scholars of American religious history.
Commentators on the contemporary American West rarely even glance at how religion has affected cultural life in the region. In an invaluable addition to the Modern American West series, Szasz redresses this deficiency, conveying the unexpected vitality and the confusing complexity of religious traditions in a region dominated by no one faith but shared by many. . . . [Szasz tells] his many-stranded story with a richness of both anecdotal and sociological detail. . . . A vitally important volume for anyone wanting to understand the strange kaleidoscope of beliefs west of Omaha.
Lucidly presented . . . Szasz takes pains to present the unique character of Western American religious practice, marked as it is by a mixture of frontier spirit, utopian questing, a certain religious consumerism, and a philosophical eclecticism tied to a secular mind-set that thirsts after an individualistic social order. . . . The comprehensive footnotes and bibliography make this especially worthwhile as a research tool. Recommended.
This first major survey on the subject commands a rereading of American history as a whole. . . . It is a work that no historian, whether broadly secular or narrowly denominational, may with impunity ignore.
Catholic Historical Review
Provides general readers with a readable introduction to a fascinating field and simultaneously invites specialists in American religious history and the westerning experience to explore an array of important, interesting, long-overlooked topics. Szasz's effectiveness in 'preaching to two audiences' is impressive.
Journal of Presbyterian History
Thanks to his book, students and practitioners of religion in the West will have an easier time getting the full lay of the land.
Utah Historical Quarterly
Interesting and engaging . . . No one can read this book and not be convinced that religion has played and continues to play a prominent role in American life and culture.
Journal of American History
Szasz's work is quite persuasive. His attention to sources and his excellent choices of narrative strategies gives us a richly human West, a West we recognize.
Journal of Religion
In the midst of the rich detail, the author has woven a narrative that fits easily the personages and events recorded. For its scope this is one of the best books on religion in the West that has appeared.
Journal of American Ethnic History
The strength of this book rests in its cross-denominational approach. Szasz embraces of host of persuasions, placing each into a clear and readable framework. . . . A thoughtful presentation of a provocative and difficult subject by a skilled historian.
Journal of Arizona History