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In this engrossing study of religion, urban life, and commercial culture, Diane Winston shows how a (self-styled "red-hot") militant Protestant mission established a beachhead in the modern city. When The Salvation Army, a British evangelical movement, landed in New York in 1880, local citizens called its eye-catching advertisements "vulgar" and dubbed its brass bands, female preachers, and overheated services "sensationalist." Yet a little more than a century later, this ragtag missionary movement had evolved into the nation's largest charitable fund-raiser--the very exemplar of America's most cherished values of social service and religious commitment.
Winston illustrates how the Army borrowed the forms and idioms of popular entertainments, commercial emporiums, and master marketers to deliver its message. In contrast to histories that relegate religion to the sidelines of urban society, her book shows that Salvationists were at the center of debates about social services for the urban poor, the changing position of women, and the evolution of a consumer culture. She also describes Salvationist influence on contemporary life--from the public's post-World War I (and ongoing) love affair with the doughnut to the Salvationist young woman's career as a Hollywood icon to the institutionalization of religious ideals into nonsectarian social programs.
Winston's vivid account of a street savvy religious mission transformed over the decades makes adroit use of performance theory and material culture studies to create an evocative portrait of a beloved yet little understood religious movement. Her book provides striking evidence that, counter to conventional wisdom, religion was among the seminal social forces that shaped modern, urban America--and, in the process, found new expression for its own ideals.
The book's look at the Salvationists from 1880 to 1950 is multi-faceted, but one part particularly relevant to our age shows how many of the Army's female leaders supported opportunities for women in education, work, and sports, without lessening the centrality of home, family, and church.
— Marvin Olasky
How a small band of fiery street-corner evangelists—in the beginning derided as vulgar exhibitionists—evolved into a formidable charitable organization that raises more than $1 billion annually is the focus of Diane Winston's superb book...Winston combines intelligent insights, rich anecdotes and telling facts to chart the remarkable ascent of the Salvation Army from 1880, when it landed on U.S. shores, to 1950. The book's finest and most compelling moments come when Winston adroitly profiles the Army's evolution into a mighty charitable engine...As Winston skillfully shows, the Salvation Army was the first American religion not only to embrace but to appropriate popular culture to promote its message to a broad spectrum of society.
— Diego Ribadeneira
A detailed account of the group's rise to charitable and cultural prominence.
— Kevin Eckstrom
A lively, well-documented book.
— Merle Rubin
[Diane Winston's] sharpest insight is about the dilution of the Salvation Army's evangelical mission. Modern culture has had a greater effect on the army, Ms. Winston suggests, than the army has had on modern culture.
— Fred Barnes
[Red-Hot and Righteous] tells the story of what [Winston] believes was the first successful city-based religion in the United States. It's a religion that thrives today as the biggest charity in the country, even though most of its donors—everyone who throws a dollar or a dime into the red kettle come Christmastime—have no idea what its goals really are.
— Jeff Sharlet
A fascinating account of how the Salvation Army began banging the drum in Britain, moved across the water and made a name for itself here, too.
— Dave Wood
Winston has written an engaging and insightful history of how the Salvation Army hitched its 'red-hot' Protestant mission to the rising star of a modern American city (New York) and became the nation's largest charitable fundraiser...Winston's energetic prose skillfully interweaves the clamor of fin de siécle New York City with a close scrutiny of an organization most Americans consider themselves familiar with, at least with the uniformed bell-ringers who first manned Christmas donation kettles on street corners in 1891.
— Dale Edwyna
How a small band of fiery street-corner evangelists—in the beginning derided as vulgar exhibitionists—evolved into a formidable charitable organization that raises more than $1 billion annually is the focus of Diane Winston's superb new book. In Red-Hot and Righteous, Winston combines intelligent insights, rich anecdotes and telling facts to chart the remarkable ascent of the Salvation Army, when it landed on US shores, to 1950...Winston's fine book is a remarkable tale not just of the rise to prominence of the Salvation Army but of the interplay between religion and culture—a dynamic that is still alive and well today.
— Diego Ribadeneira
Winston tells the story of how a radical and rather disreputable evangelical movement bent on thrusting the kingdom of God into the public square was tamed and transformed into America's most widely known social-service organization and its top-grossing charity. But Winston challenges smug secularist readings of the Army's transformation as yet one more story of the triumph of worldly modernism over backward-looking religious idealism. Religious readers who see this as a story of religious declension are equally wrong, she argues. Rather, she presents the Army's history as an example of "the adaptive capacity that has sustained Christianity through twenty centuries of change."...The book excels at teasing out the layers of meaning condensed in Salvationist performances and public images.
— Greg Schneider
In this enthralling text, historian Diane Winston chronicles the American origins of the Salvation Army, focusing on New York City...Red-Hot and Righteous is a remarkable account of a contemporary religious movement.
— Rebecca Maksel
Red-Hot and Righteous, Diane Winston's shrewd and graceful history, explains how the Salvation Army scaled the heights of urban culture and explores the ways in which New York City and the Army in fact conquered each other...[She] shows that the key to the Army's history was its practice of plunging headlong into the emerging commercial culture of city life...Red-Hot and Righteous is consistently nuanced and thoughtful, and a valuable corrective to 20th-century cultural histories that neglect religious energies. Winston helps us to understand how a religious movement that railed against 'the destroying menace of selfishness in the environment' built itself by embracing modern celebrations of the fluid self: costume, advertising, and the theater of personal conversion.
— David Glenn
Winston has a lively story to tell...[T]he book is worthy reading for its rich story of a complicated human institution full of men and women spending their lives truly doing good.
— Michael Pakenham
This imaginative and thoroughly researched book convincingly traces the way in which the Salvation Army tailored its message and image to accomplish the maximum practical good in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, while winning the hearts of a public not quite ready—as it still seems not to be—for its distinctive spiritual message.
— Charlotte Allen
This book, written from the perspective of an outsider, though an obviously admiring one, is full of interesting bits, such as the history of the Christmastime red kettles and a discussion of the coffee and doughnuts Salvation Army 'lassies' distributed to World War I doughboys as a form of 'secular' communion. But the book also explores much broader cultural history, such as how the Salvationists' pursuit of lost souls engaged them in many of the major issues of their day: economic development and social justice, for example.
— Ruth Walker
[Diane Winston's] book examines how a religious organization cut through class divides by tempering its preaching with spectacle and song, cloaking itself in a military identity, overcoming attacks by street ruffians, brushing off ridicule in the press, and offering human services to anyone in need.
— C. Quinn Hanchette
[I]n a book filled with historic photos and posters, [Diane Winston] shows how the Salvationists began as conspicuous soul-savers but changed once they saw that becoming silent witnesses for God might be more effective than outright proselytizing...An underlying theme of Winston's book is that the Salvation Army has functioned better as a social service provider than it ever did as a proselytizing religion. From the first, it extended social services to the needy regardless of race, creed, or religion.
— Sarah Johnson
'Red-hot and righteous' is how the Salvationists described the fervent preaching they liked, and Winston successfully captures the fervor of The Salvation Army movement. Although she is not a Salvationist herself, she admits her research gave her 'a deep appreciation for the selfless work Salvationists have done and continue to do. Their compassion and dedication are truly compelling.' So is the telling of their story.
— John Armistead
The scope and variety of material elements explored in this work are its greatest strength
Red-Hot and Righteous offers a refreshing perspective on religious history suggesting that there are deeper interactions between religion and culture that many historians have suspected. It is in illustrating how a supposedly secularizing society adopted and incorporated the religious symbols of the Army within the fabric of American life that Winston is most successful and innovative.
— James Opp
Red-Hot and Righteous is a detailed and readable account of the [the Salvation Army's] rise to charitable and cultural prominence. The book explores the Salvation Army's deliberate strategy to 'sell' itself and its mission by adopting elements of commercial culture to spread its gospel of physical and spiritual healing...One of the things that fascinates Winston is the Army's ability to sell itself while still preaching an evangelical Christian message. The Army's capacity to be evangelical and charitable, without offending non-believers, is still one of its trademarks.
— Kevin Eckstrom
1. The Cathedral of the Open Air, 1880-1886
2. The New Woman, 1886-1896
3. The Red Crusade, 1896-1904
4. The Commander in Rags, 1904-1918
5. Fires of Faith, 1919-1950