Founded in 1976 as a means of mixing action with proclamation, Habitat for HumanityR taps about 250,000 American volunteers annually to build homes for the needy. (It also has more than 300 affiliates abroad in 64 countries.) With this upbeat account, a revision of his doctoral thesis, Baggett (religion and society, Jesuit Sch. of Theology, Berkeley) attempts a thorough sociological study of "a distinctly public manifestation of religious conviction that is compelling enough to mobilize thousands of American volunteers each year." The author aims to explain how the organization achieves this and how the volunteers understand their own involvement. He proceeds systematically, first explaining Habitat's place within the social ecology, then describing its history and structure. No human endeavor is idyllic, however, and he reveals the tensions between Habitat's citizenship ideal and the dangers of its being co-opted by class divisions. Baggett also considers some of the implications of his claim that Habitat provides a pragmatic, nondoctrinal, and individual-centered religiosity well suited to our modern secular climate. His thoughtful analysis leaves one with optimism for the future. Recommended for public and academic libraries.--Eugene O. Bowser, Univ. of Northern Colorado, Greeley Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.