An account of half a century of American evangelicalism abroad.
“In the 1990s,” writes McAlister (American Studies and International Affairs/George Washington Univ.; Epic Encounters: Culture, Media, and U.S. Interests in the Middle East Since 1945, 2005), “the map of the ‘10/40 Window’ was one of the most widely recognized images in the evangelical community. The map had various incarnations, but all of them illustrated the same basic concept: There was a region of the world that stretched from Africa to Asia, from 10 degrees to 40 degrees north of the equator—a belt that included India, Pakistan, China, and the Middle East—that desperately needed Jesus.” This is a meticulously researched survey full of fascinating historical information—perhaps no piece more relevant to this era than the “10/40 Window”—but its academic style will impede many readers. The author tends to begin chapters with compelling anecdotes and wrap them up with crisp summations (“young evangelicals wanted to go where God sent them, but they expected God to choose some place extraordinary”). Unfortunately, the bulk of what falls between is often bogged down in contextual details that, while thoroughly researched, hamper the flow of the narrative. One notable exception can be found in the chapter detailing a mission trip to Sudan undertaken by members of Elmbrook Church of Brookfield, Wisconsin. This chapter is reported and not merely researched, making for a much livelier feel. McAlister joined the mission, and she uses her firsthand experience to ground her scholarly work. Her impressions—e.g., “I thought it unlikely that we would be painting a church or building a useless wall”—give readers not only a welcome sense of the author as a person, but also an account of how she develops her expertise.
A book for libraries; better to be consulted for research than read for general interest.