From Bible Belt to Sunbelt

Plain-Folk Religion, Grassroots Politics, and the Rise of Evangelical Conservatism

Darren Dochuk (Author, Purdue University)

Overview | Contents

A prize-winning, five-decade history of the evangelical movement in Southern California that explains a sweeping realignment of American politics.

From Bible Belt to Sun Belt tells the dramatic and largely unknown story of “plain-folk” religious migrants: hardworking men and women from Oklahoma, Texas, and Arkansas who fled the Depression and came to California for military jobs during World War II. Investigating this fiercely pious community at a grassroots level, Darren Dochuk uses the stories of religious leaders, including Billy Graham, as well as many colorful, lesser-known figures to explain how evangelicals organized a powerful political machine. This machine made its mark with Barry Goldwater, inspired Richard Nixon’s “Southern Solution,” and achieved its greatest triumph with the victories of Ronald Reagan. Based on entirely new research, the manuscript has already won the prestigious Allan Nevins Prize from the Society of American Historians. The judges wrote, “Dochuk offers a rich and multidimensional perspective on the origins of one of the most far-ranging developments of the second half of the twentieth century: the rise of the New Right and modern conservatism.”

Book Details

  • Paperback
  • May 2012
  • ISBN 978-0-393-33904-8
  • 5.5 × 8.3 in / 560 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide

Endorsements & Reviews

“Lively, utterly convincing. . . . A superbly researched study of grassroots political mobilization. . . . [Dochuk] skillfully traces a continuous narrative stretching from the Dust Bowl to Ronald Reagan, and demonstrates with prodigious research how this narrative fits into a much broader American canvas. . . . From Bible Belt to Sunbelt is an important book.” — Chris Lehmann, New Republic

“Darren Dochuk has painted a vista from which unfolds the creation of Reagan’s nation, as the California dreams of Southern evangelicals become the American dreams of Sunbelt conservatives. Through the guiding telescope of Dochuk’s prose, we meet a fascinating cast of characters destined to be staples in future tellings of this important story. This much anticipated book is well worth the wait.” — Steven P. Miller, author of Billy Graham and the Rise of the Republican South

“The nation is today color-coded into red and blue. In this tour de force of research, narrative, and analysis, a brilliant young historian chronicles how Southern California served as the matrix for this enduring bifurcation. Beneath the sunshine and the palm trees, uprooted evangelicals experienced a Great Awakening that transformed American politics in our era.” — Kevin Starr, University of Southern California

“With narrative authority and sparkling insight, Darren Dochuk explains how and why Southern California became the crucible of the Christian Right. Anyone who wants to understand the history of modern American conservatism should read this book.” — Michael Kazin, author of A Godly Hero: The Life of William Jennings Bryan

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