Religion and Political Culture in Britain and Ireland: From the Glorious Revolution to the Decline of Empire

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Religion and Political Culture in Britain and Ireland: From the Glorious Revolution to the Decline of Empire. By David Hempton. (New York: Cambridge University Press. 1996. Pp. xii, 191. $49.95 hardback; $16.95 paperback.)

This book is based on the Cadbury lectures which the author gave at the University of Birmingham in 1993, and provides a consistently incisive and penetrating survey of an historical territory fully as complex and varied as the geography of the islands with which it is concerned. Hempton shows himself the master of an extensive range of scholarship, given additional depth by insights from his own considerable primary research. He ably challenges the simplistic generalizations of others while offering a satisfying interpretative framework of his own, building upon his perception of the "patchwork quilt" quality of British and Irish religious allegiances and his awareness of how closely these commitments and associations were woven in with other aspects of the rich tapestry of human lives. He thus treats religion very seriously as a motivating and mobilizing force in its own right, while moving far outside the narrow confines of a more traditional kind of ecclesiastical history

Readers of this journal are likely to be particularly interested in Hempton's examination of Irish Catholicism and its antithesis, Ulster Protestantism, two chapters in which the interplay of religion with politics is particularly finely drawn. …

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