It’s been a while since we’ve put any of our books to the Page 99 Test. Let’s make up for lost time, shall we? Just as a refresher, the Page 99 Test follows Ford Madox Ford’s suggestion to “open the book to page ninety-nine and read, and the quality of the whole will be revealed to you.” Read on to see how UNC Press authors David W. Stowe, Jennifer Graber, Deborah Cohen, and Michael Barkun fared!
David W. Stowe’s new book, No Sympathy for the Devil: Christian Pop Music and the Transformation of American Evangelicalism, relates mainstream rock music from the 1960s-1970s to the Christian pop that evolved out of the Jesus Movement from the same period. Here’s how page 99 fared:
My fingers practically trembling with suspense, I flip to page 99 hoping for a good page. I’m relieved to drop into a discussion of the complex psyche of Marvin Gaye as reflected in his breakthrough album, What’s Going On. The page turns out to be a pretty representative core sample of my book, which explores the interplay between musical, evangelical Christianity, and electoral politics during the watershed decade of the Seventies. More specifically, No Sympathy for the Devil sets out to understand the unexpected irruption of religious themes in popular music around the turn of the decade, ranging from obscure Jesus folk songs that bubble up from the hippie-tinged Southern California Jesus Movement scene to “O Holy Day,” Jesus Christ Superstar and “Jesus is Just Alright.”
Visit the Page 99 Test blog to read the rest of his thoughts. If you want to read some other pages from the book, visit the book page at the UNC Press website, and be sure to check out No Sympathy for the Devil on Facebook.
Up next against the test is Furnace of Affliction: Prisons and Religion in Antebellum America, where author Jennifer Graber takes a closer look at Christianity’s role in the discipline in the American penitentiary system from the 1790s-1850s:
Thomas Eddy’s 1823 pamphlet referred to three treadmills installed inside New York City’s penitentiary. Sixteen inmates powered each mill by stepping for hours on end. According to the London Quakers who came up with the idea, the instrument should grind grain or pump water, making the inmates’ labor productive. As Eddy’s critical pamphlet shows, there were sharp disagreements about how new punitive technologies were implemented. In New York, the treadmills merely turned in circles, without processing grain or propelling water. Visitors paid to watch inmates at this tedious work. Eddy was outraged. “Every attempt to treat [the inmate] as less than human is equally to outrage the feelings of nature…and to violate the principles of Christianity.” A member of the Society of Friends, Eddy articulated similar criticisms of almost every kind of punishment used in the early republic.
Next up is Deborah Cohen’s Braceros: Migrant Citizens and Transnational Subjects in the Postwar United States and Mexico, where she looks at complicated politics of the program that resulted from WWII that allowed Mexican men to work in the U.S:
I think that page 99 is representative of the general flavor of the book, which relies heavily on oral histories of former braceros. A bracero, for those unacquainted with the term, is Spanish for a manual worker. The bracero program, really a series of U.S.-Mexico agreements in effect off and on from 1942-1964 which brought Mexican men to do agricultural labor, derives its informal name from this term. I conducted some of the oral histories I use and the remaining ones were done by other researchers.
Next we have Michael Barkun’s Chasing Phantoms: Reality, Imagination, and Homeland Security Since 9/11, which unpacks the difference between perceived and actual security threats to the U.S.:
My aim in writing Chasing Phantoms was to unpack some of the non-rational factors that affected responses to the September 11th attacks, and their effect on homeland security policies. By the time we reach page 99, I’m looking for concepts that tie together the observations made in the earlier pages. Page 99 is in the midst of a discussion of the idea of “moral panic,” a notion first developed by the British sociologist Stanley Cohen almost forty years ago. A moral panic occurs when a society suddenly awakens to a sense of severe and widespread threat. As I make clear on pages 98-99, the hallmark of a moral panic is that the reaction is always disproportionate to the danger, and that is precisely what happened after 9/11.
Phew, that wasn’t such a hard test, right? I think they all passed with flying colors.