Cover for BRUNS: Preacher: Billy Sunday and Big-Time American Evangelism. Click for larger image


Billy Sunday and Big-Time American Evangelism

In this fast-paced, captivating account of Billy Sunday's life, Roger A. Bruns masterfully unfolds the story of modern evangelism.

Born in Iowa during the Civil War, Sunday rose to fame as the "fastest man in baseball" during his career with the Chicago White Stockings in the 1880s. But he turned his back on the game when he heard the call of God, first spreading his old-fashioned, fundamentalist message in Chicago's gritty saloons.

By 1896, Sunday's swashbuckling campaign was on the road. He riled and rallied audiences across the country, firing off a slew of railing diatribes in his quest to expurgate the moral rot of society, board up bars and brothels, rid the world of cigarettes and dime novels, and save faithless, sinful, and rum-soaked souls from eternal damnation.

In the tabernacles and tents of his traveling revival, Sunday served up a spectacle of rambunctious antics and quick-tongued invectives all grounded in his own moral and religious authority. He beseeched the "fal-da-rol" and "tommyrot" displayed by intellectuals, evolutionists, Unitarians, and left-wing radicals to build a massive religious dynasty that foreshadowed the successful careers of Jimmy Swaggart and Billy Graham.

A stirring orator and consummate showman, Sunday's evangelical message reached millions of Americans, even before the advent of radio and television broadcasting. With unerring verve, Bruns chronicles how Sunday bridged the gap between the tent revivals of the nineteenth century and the evangelical empires of today.

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