Academics are continually urged to “internationalize,” but most of us know how many difficulties stand in the way. Here we have a fine example of international collaboration on a large scale, with the main impetus coming from the United States, but with contributions from seven other countries. The result is a volume that specialists in the history of Christianity in other regions of the world will read with great interest, and a degree of envy. As an historian of religion in Western Europe, I can say that although there is a vast literature on the religious history of the nineteenth century and a growing literature on the twentieth century, there is nothing quite like this. There are a number of collections of sociological studies of religion in the countries of contemporary Europe, but insofar as these have a historical dimension, their concern is with very recent history. And though there are books that compare the religious histories of various Western European countries, the range of countries covered is narrower. They also tend to concentrate on a specific issue, most often secularization. There is indeed a large literature on the religious history of individual west European countries in the twentieth century, but as yet there is a tendency for historians of each country to focus on specific aspects of this history. For instance, in countries such as France, Germany, or Ireland, where the interaction of religion and politics has been most evident and most controversial, church-state relations and the political role of the churches have received most attention. However, writers on other countries, for instance Britain or the Netherlands, have given the most attention to social history.
By contrast, this volume ranges from the nineteenth century to the twenty-first, albeit with a special focus on the communist period,