Books: Basic Rites

UNDER GOD: RELIGION AND AMERICAN POLITICS by Garry Wills

Simon & Schuster

445 pages; $24.95

Garry Wills has carved out a substantial career as a social critic by cutting against the ideological grain. Conservatives find him too liberal, and liberals complain that he is too conservative. Similarly, scholars think of Wills as a journalist, and journalists often feel that his work is unnecessarily academic.

Under God should displease everyone, except millions of churchgoing Americans who do not have to read the book because they already know what Wills takes more than 400 pages to point out: the U.S. remains an avidly...

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