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  • Economic History Association The Fourth Great Awakening and the Future of Egalitarianism by Robert William Fogel Review by: Edward E. Zajac The Journal of Economic History, Vol. 60, No. 4 (Dec., 2000), pp. 1171-1172 Published by: Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Economic History Association Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2698118 . Accessed: 28/06/2014 17:14 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp . JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org. . Cambridge University Press and Economic History Association are collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to The Journal of Economic History. http://www.jstor.org This content downloaded from on Sat, 28 Jun 2014 17:14:19 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions http://www.jstor.org/action/showPublisher?publisherCode=cup http://www.jstor.org/action/showPublisher?publisherCode=eha http://www.jstor.org/stable/2698118?origin=JSTOR-pdf http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp
  • Book Reviews 1171 The Fourth Great Awakening & the Future of Egalitarianism. By Robert William Fogel. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2000. Pp. 383. $25.00. A recent Wall Street Journal article (Susan Lee, "God in Gotham." Wall Street Journal, 7 July 2000: W13) estimates that 20 percent of New York City's population are "evangel- icals" "Christians who believe in the ultimate authority of the Bible, in Jesus as the only way to salvation, in a personal conversion to God and in the need to 'evangelize' or spread the good news of the Scripture." Before reading Robert Fogel's The Fourth GreatAwaken- ing & the Future of Egalitarianism I would have been skeptical of the accuracy of this statistic, but not after having read it and discovered that about a third of the electorate are adherents of enthusiastic religions (p. 25). Given its awesome scope and sweep, Fogel's book is short, only 242 pages of main text. Yet, he has packed the results of 40 years of research into it. His main theme is that the United States is in the throes of another reli- gious awakening, its fourth in the last three centuries and one that emphasizes "evangelical" or "enthusiastic" religion. Fogel is one of the 1993 winners of the Nobel Prize for economics. So what's he doing writing about the history of religion? In fact, he does not confine himself to the history of religion. Instead, one senses a scholar determined to develop a comprehensive theory ofthe evolution of the United States, with the courage and chutzpah to plunge into whatever territory his quest takes him, including turf owned by other disciplines. He ends up inter- relating the development ofreligious movements, theories of economic growth, technologi- cal change, demographic change, and institutional change, and cutting across the disci- plines of economics, history of religion, political science, and demography. Fogel leans heavily on William G. McLoughlin's exposition of the four great religious awakenings in the United States, contained in his Revivals, Awakenings and Reform (Chi- cago: University of Chicago Press, 1978). Not all historians of religion accept McLoughlin's theory, but Fogel uses it, in modified form, as the basic framework for his story (for example, McLoughlin's awakenings last a generation [30 years] and are non- overlapping; Fogel's last about a century and overlap). The first great awakening (lstGA), lasting from roughly 1730 to 1830, saw the weakening ofthe doctrine ofpredestination and the rise of the ethic of benevolence. The second great awakening (2ndGA) (1800-1920) saw the emergence ofthe beliefthat one could achieve saving grace through inner and outer struggle against sin. In the third great awakening (3rdGA) (1890-) emphasis shifted from personal to social sin, accompanied by a shift to a more secular interpretation of the Bible. The 3rdGA also saw the emergence ofthe Social Gospel movement that rejected the notion that poverty is the wages of sin in favor of the idea that rescuing the poor from their plight is society's responsibility. Finally, in the present, fourth great awakening (4thGA) (1960-) there has been a return to sensuous religion, and a reassertion of the experiential content of the Bible and of the concept of personal sin. Fogel's creative and insightful synthesis stands much received wisdom on its head. For example, there has been much decrying of increasing inequality in the United States since the 1970s, as reflected in a steady increase in the Gini coefficient of income distribution. Fogel argues that biological indicators-height, the body-mass index (the ratio of weight to the square of height), and longevity-are in fact better economic indicators than conven- tional economic indicators such as the Gini coefficient. Since the 1970s the biological indicators show a decrease in inequality (p. 217). Probing in this way beyond the seem- ingly obvious, Fogel marshals an impressive array of evidence to make his main point: In the United States, the 3rdGA's campaign to achieve equality ofmaterial condition has been very successful (see Chapter 5). But "the Social Gospelers' effort to reform human nature, to crush evil, and to create God's kingdom on earth through income redistribution has This content downloaded from on Sat, 28 Jun 2014 17:14:19 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp
  • 1172 Book Reviews failed" (p. 171). The failure has set the stage for the 4thGA, which has given rise to the new goal of spiritual rather than material equality, to be achieved in a society of abundance that allows us an unprecedented array of life choices. The search for spiritual equality leads to self-examination, a revisit of age-old questions of the meaning of life, and a much greater emphasis on the realization of personal goals. A task that remains, however, is to extend this rosy picture internationally to poor nations. Fogel's book represents big-picture research that often collapses complex events into thumbnail sketches. It is thus open to attack for sins of oversimplification, over- generalization, omission of important details, and lack of rigor. Inasmuch as each of Fogel's great awakenings have lasted about a century and we are only 40 years into the 4thGA, it may be a while before we see whether or not Fogel's book becomes a classic or is confined to the dust bin of failed grand theories. My guess is that it will become a classic. At a minimum, it suggests a new classification language, even for secular matters. For example, John Rawls is obviously a 3rdGA political philosopher, while Friedrich Hayek and Robert Nozick are 4thGA. Ralph Nader's Green Party is 3rdGA, while the fastest growing political party in the United States-the Libertar- ian Party-is 4thGA . Most importantly for the readership of this JOURNAL, Fogel has compelling demonstrated that any economic history of the United States that slights the effects of religious movements will be incomplete and deficient. EDWARD E. ZAJAC, University ofArizona GENERAL AND MISCELLANEOUS SomethingNew Under the Sun: An Environmental History ofthe Twentieth-Century World. By John R. McNeill. New York: W. W. Norton, 2000. Pp. xxvi, 421. $29.95. At the dawning of the twenty-first century, John McNeill offers the first comprehensive world environmental history of the twentieth century. It is an impressive, synoptic view. Although human impacts on the natural world, and environmental impacts on human history, have been operative since earliest times, the impression that the twentieth century witnessed far more of both than any previous century, and in some respects more than all previous centuries combined, is undoubtedly correct. McNeill documents these changes, and provides challenging interpretations of their causes and import. Where a look at previ- ous times is necessary to understand the century, he succinctly provides the background. He uses a biological analogy to explain why the twentieth century differed from previous ones. Among the ways in which species adapt to their environments, he observes, two stand out. Some, such as rats, are open to change and a variety of opportunities. For most of history, humans have pursued this strategy. Others, such as sharks, become supremely specialized at one way of life, and are successful as long as environmental changes do not eliminate the niche they have filled. In the twentieth century, humans have adopted the second strategy. Present culture is adapted to abundant resources, fossil-fuel energy, and rapid economic growth. The patterns we have adopted will not easily be altered should circumstances change, and the behavior of human economy in the twentieth century has increased the inevitability of change. The patterns of human environmental relations, McNeill credibly maintains, are the most important aspect of twentieth-century history. The book is divided into two major segments. Part one traces the unique quantity and quality of human impacts in the twentieth century on the various elements of the environ- This content downloaded from on Sat, 28 Jun 2014 17:14:19 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp Article Contents p. 1171 p. 1172 Issue Table of Contents The Journal of Economic History, Vol. 60, No. 4 (Dec., 2000), pp. 933-1197 Volume Information [pp. 1184 - 1194] Front Matter The Standardization of Track Gauge on North American Railways, 1830-1890 [pp. 933 - 960] Women and the "Second Serfdom": Evidence from Early Modern Bohemia [pp. 961 - 994] Declining Industries and the Persistence of Government Support Programs: The Quiet Decline of Gum Naval Stores Production in the United States [pp. 995 - 1016] Central Planning and Unintended Consequences: Creating the Soviet Financial System, 1930-1939 [pp. 1017 - 1040] The First Bank of the United States and the Securities Market Crash of 1792 [pp. 1041 - 1060] "Weimar on the Volga": Causes and Consequences of Inflation in 1990s Russia Compared with 1920s Germany [pp. 1061 - 1087] Commerce and Cooperation: Litigation and Settlement of Civil Disputes on the Australian Frontier, 1860-1900 [pp. 1088 - 1119] Notes and Discussion A Note on New Estimates of the Distribution of Income in the 1920s [pp. 1120 - 1128] Editors' Notes [pp. 1129 - 1131] Book Reviews Modern Europe untitled [pp. 1132 - 1133] untitled [pp. 1133 - 1134] untitled [pp. 1134 - 1135] untitled [pp. 1135 - 1137] untitled [pp. 1137 - 1138] untitled [pp. 1138 - 1139] untitled [pp. 1140 - 1141] untitled [pp. 1141 - 1142] untitled [pp. 1142 - 1144] untitled [pp. 1144 - 1145] untitled [pp. 1146 - 1147] untitled [pp. 1147 - 1148] Asia and Latin America untitled [pp. 1148 - 1149] untitled [pp. 1149 - 1150] untitled [pp. 1151 - 1152] untitled [pp. 1152 - 1153] United States and Canada untitled [pp. 1154 - 1155] untitled [pp. 1155 - 1156] untitled [pp. 1156 - 1158] untitled [pp. 1158 - 1159] untitled [p. 1160] untitled [pp. 1161 - 1162] untitled [pp. 1162 - 1164] untitled [pp. 1164 - 1166] untitled [pp. 1166 - 1167] untitled [pp. 1167 - 1169] untitled [pp. 1169 - 1170] untitled [pp. 1171 - 1172] General and Miscellaneous untitled [pp. 1172 - 1174] untitled [pp. 1174 - 1175] untitled [pp. 1175 - 1176] untitled [pp. 1177 - 1178] untitled [pp. 1178 - 1179] untitled [pp. 1179 - 1181] untitled [pp. 1181 - 1182] untitled [pp. 1182 - 1183] Back Matter [pp. 1195 - 1197]