Reviews provided by Syndetics
Library Journal Review
This new series, written by leading scholars for students and general readers, portrays the diversity and complexity of religious life in America, focusing on the influence of Western society as a major challenge that religious groups will face in the 21st century. Both works contain profiles of noteworthy individuals, suggestions for further reading, glossaries, chronologies, and a list of web sites. Gillis (theology and Catholic studies, Georgetown Univ.) provides an excellent survey. In the chapter "Who Are the American Catholics?" for example, he breaks down types of Catholics by geography, ethnic background, and income; charts and informative statistics supplement the text without becoming tedious. This title includes a detailed synopsis of the history of Catholicism, with special emphasis on Vatican II and the tensions between Rome and AmericaÄpartially due to issues such as women's ordination, birth control, and abortion rights. Smith (Islamic studies, Hartford Seminary) writes a general introduction to Islam as practiced by American Muslims. Islam in America outlines the influences of a secular and materialistic Western culture, the keenly felt prejudices on the part of non-Muslims, and the misunderstandings between Muslims that often arise when they try to balance cultural expectations with the value system of the conservative Middle East. Of special interest is the chapter on African American Muslims and other smaller groups. Highly recommended for academic and public libraries. [For more on Islam, see "Bridging the Gap: Islam in America," LJ 10/1/98, p. 59-63.ÄEd.]ÄMichael W. Ellis, Ellenville P.L., NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
This second edition by Smith (Harvard), a founding mother of the study of American Muslims, updates her 1999 edition. Then and now, the book offers a broad-stroke introduction to the tenets of Islam and to Muslim history, followed by overview chapters of the history of Islam in America, African American Islam, issues of public religious practice, women and family, and the challenges of living as a Muslim in American society. The new edition updates material in several chapters and offers an additional chapter on Islam in the US after 9/11, including a discussion of future prospects. Smith has retained both the assimilation paradigm (Islam is assumed to be alien to American society; thus Muslims need to adjust it in order to integrate) as the theoretical foundation of the volume, and the call for inclusion of Muslims in the American religious landscape. The volume offers annotated suggestions for further reading to each chapter, but no references in the text. Considering recent and important theoretical and empirical developments, this introductory volume now covers much less of the breadth and depth of this growing field than it did in 1999. However, it remains useful entry-level reading. Summing Up: Recommended. Especially for libraries that lack the first edition; lower- and upper-level undergraduates, general readers, and practitioners. J. Hammer George Mason University
Author notes provided by Syndetics
<p>Jane I. Smith is professor of Islamic Studies at Hartford Seminary in Connecticut. The coeditor of The Muslim World and an editor of the Encyclopedia of Women in World Religion, she is the author of The Concept of Islam in the History of Qur'anic Exegesis and coauthor of Mission to America, and serves as a member of the Commission on Interfaith Relations of the National Council of Churches.</p>