New Nonfiction: Why Liberals Win the Culture Wars – Stephen Prothero

The title is a provocative claim–and it’s backed by what turns out to be a very engaging American cultural history from one of the very best explainers around.

Prothero is a Professor of Religion at Boston University and was called by Newsweek, “the kind of professor who makes you want to go back to college.” His Religious Literacy was a NYT bestseller that made the argument that a basic understanding of all major religions is a prerequisite to good citizenship and confronting the challenges of the modern world. He has appeared on The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, Oprah and contributes regularly to periodicals like The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today.

This new book is the kind of “big picture” writing he does best. In Why Liberals Win the Culture Wars, Prothero puts our very divisive current political moment into historical context.  He shows that we’ve been doing this over and over again since the 17th century and that our culture wars have always been religious wars. He also makes the hopeful claim that this is how we work out our “Americanness.”

Culture wars, Prothero writes, provoke change, serving as the catalyst for American democracy despite the nasty public disputes between conservatives and liberals over moral, religious, and social issues….Prothero’s illuminating and absorbing take on America’s growing pains reveals that when ‘each of our cultural battles comes to an end, we are left with a more inclusive country.’”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Prothero brilliantly shows how the same groups drive conflicts year after year and often lose–and how the results eventually make us stronger. Useful, instructive reading for all voters in the upcoming election.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Prothero offers a timely social history that illustrates that the current conflicts are actually part of a much larger story….His thesis is that conservatives tend to instigate individual culture wars owing to anxiety that their world is passing away….This book provides social, political, and historical context to the current culture wars and offers constructive and hopeful ideas for defueling the cycle, ideas that are pertinent to liberals and conservatives alike.”
   — Library Journal

 Why Liberals Win the Culture Wars (Even When They Lose Elections): The Battles That Define America from Jefferson’s Heresies to Gay Marriage (9780061571299) by Stephen Prothero. $26.99 hardcover. 1/5/16 on sale.

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