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Swaggart The Unauthorized Biography of an American Evangelist by Ann Rowe Seaman

Swaggart The Unauthorized Biography of an American Evangelist


Swaggart The Unauthorized Biography of an American Evangelist by Ann Rowe Seaman

By 1987 Swaggart was one of the most popular video preachers in the world, with a weekly television audience of 2.1 million in the US and a worldwide audience of millions more in 143 countries. But then, in a cheerless motel west of New Orleans, Jimmy's life and ministry took a calamitous turn. This the tale of the rise of two intimately linked colossi of the American century: Pentecostalism, the fastest growing religious movement in the world, and its evil twin, Rock 'n' Roll. A major theme of the book is how the religious ecstasy of Pentecostalism - the rousing music, the speaking in tongues, the reception of the Spirit - combined with its severe sexual repression leads to the kind of furtive acting out that brought down not only Jimmy Swaggart but also other evangelists. It is the story, too, of the rapid rise of the Religious Right, with its competing personalities and ideologies. In the end, the author sees Jimmy as a victim - like many others - of a primitive faith colliding with the forces of the late 20th century fame.


Jimmy Swaggart's story is inevitably that of rocker Jerry Lee Lewis, too, which helps Seaman's conceit of rock 'n
roll and Pentecostalism as evil twins

.... Everything you ever wanted to know about the biggest televangelist who ever took a fall and his wild and wacky clan. -Booklist; Jimmy Swaggart could be an easy target.... But Seaman... approaches her subject... with a patience that conveys an intimate understanding of the man's world.... The results is an intelligent and smoothly readable personal history that chronicles a fascinating slice of Americana. -Publishers Weekly; Well-documented... a fascinating glimpse into behind-the-scenes religious power politics. Seaman neither whitewashes nor vilifies Swaggart, instead examining him and seeking explanations for both his tremendous accomplishments and tragic flaws. Though unauthorized by the Swaggarts, this honest, evenhanded biography strives for objectivity. It is also the only biography of Swaggart currently available. -Library Journal; Engrossing, insightful... You can almost smell the funk: lust for money and fame, male rivalry, the emotional power of the pulpit, trancelike visits of the Holy Spirit, and raw sex. -Christian Century; A remarkable account of a preacher whose complexities provide a mirror on the lurching changes in religion, sex and media in the late 20th Century. That [Seaman] resisted the temptation to sensationalize, or satirize, certain sins of the flesh is one of the many virtues of her book. -Chicago Tribune; Such thoughtful analyses, often extensive and steeped in historical and cultural background, make for a compelling book which goes beyond the usual scope of biographies. Still, Swaggart also succeeds as a biography, largely because Seaman acknowledges her subject's complexity and approaches him with the respect and fairness any scrutinized life deserves. -Austin Chronicle; An unflinching but strangely sympathetic profile.... Even the reader with little interest in American TV preachers and their scandals will find much to admire in the compelling, insightful portrait of and American original and the culture that both made him and devoured him. -San Antonio Express-News

About the Author

Ann Rowe Seaman has had wide experience writing, producing, and editing for magazines and newspapers, and in authoring and editing documentary film narrations. Her publications and television spots have won awards from the American Association of Museums, the Broadcasters' Promotion Association, and other organizations. A native of Austin, Texas, she comes from a family that has produced several musicians. She is currently writing a book about her fellow Austinite (Tx) Madalyn Murray O'Hair.

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Book Info

Publication date

1st April 2001


Ann Rowe Seaman

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Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd. an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing PLC


450 pages


Biography: general



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