The Devil Is a Gentleman: Exploring America's Religious Fringe
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

The Devil Is a Gentleman: Exploring America's Religious Fringe

3.65 of 5 stars 3.65  ·  rating details  ·  54 ratings  ·  12 reviews
A hundred years ago, the writer and philosopher William James wrote The Varieties of Religious Experience, a seminal work that has inspired generations of scholars and eccentrics alike. James’s book argues that the religious spirit in man is best understood through the study of its most extreme forms. Varieties was a watershed effort: a bestselling portrait of history’s pl...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published May 16th 2006 by Random House
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Devil Is a Gentleman, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Devil Is a Gentleman

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 126)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
While Hallman by and large maintains the proper personal balance of rational skepticism and scientific inquisitiveness, his presumption of religion's exoticism is annoying. He seems to think that his lack of any religion necessarily endows him with perfect impartiality, and seems to constantly present his case studies as oddities rather than ideas to be reckoned with. The practicioners of the various religions are presented as human beings, but with a slightly voyeuristic leer. This is smug and...more
JC Hallman travels across America, investigating religions on the "fringe." He attends an atheist convention, a Wiccan convention, travels with an evangelical Christian Pro wrestling industry, interviews Satanists and Druids, and attends a Scientology workshop undercover. The really weird thing is, I found the Satanists much more likable than the atheists – he really painted the atheists in a bad light, when he went to their convention, where as the Satanists seemed actually kind of like nice pe...more
Excellent book! Deals with William James, and his impact/viewpoints on varied religious experiences, anything from Satanic worship (which isn't maybe as goat-fatal as you might think) to more wacky cult-type stuff. It's extremely readable, and very useful in sorting out what in the world passes for the more esoteric of religion today.
Titus Hjelm
A strange combination of William James biography, journalistic exposition of new religions, and soul searching. The author is a writer first and everything else second. And it shows. The book is entertaining and an easy read, but I wouldn't recommend it for people trying to get a serious sense of either James or new religious movements.
Chris Brown
very interesting. Particularly interesting section on the Church of Satan. I loved how Hallman continued to go back to William James's ideas
cool journey of a man investigating many different faiths- including satanism. finds out people are just people.
Aug 20, 2011 Jaime rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone
Interesting read. Well thought out and an eye-opening tour of America's religious fringe.
Dec 27, 2009 Anika added it
As an intellectual exercise, this book holds its own.
Tommy Carlson
I just finished reading The Devil Is a Gentleman: Exploring America's Religious Fringe by J C Hallman. I didn't enjoy it a whole lot.

The jacket copy for this book is misleading. It's not really an exploration of America's religious fringe. It's a biography of William James. (Hallman basically admits this in the epilogue.) The chapters actually dealing with fringe religions are alternated with chapters that are pure biography. And the religion chapters themselves put a big focus on how James woul...more
Christopher Wilde
While I found enjoyable nuggets in this book and I did enjoy learning a bit more about William James I question the relevance of James and of exploring the non-dangerous religious fringe.

William James offered America's first psychology course, however he never quite seemed to appreciate the science. Perhaps that was because science was in it's infancy. Never-the-less I would find a book that tested James' ideas against modern science to be a more interesting read.

Mr. Hallman's obsession with Ja...more
Frank Spencer
This book has two William James anchors: a chronology of his life and an analysis of his Varieties of Religious Experience. Weaved in with this are descriptions of the author's visits to several religious groups. It's quite a package. You get a description of several religious groups, and further understanding of James's philosophy and psychology. The search for meaning in life figures strongly in all of this. You won't be wasting your time if you read this.
Jan 10, 2008 J.L. rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anybody who's interested in religion or fringe lunatics or fringe culture
This is a book I wish I had written myself.
Stephane marked it as to-read
Aug 29, 2014
Jill Alen
Jill Alen marked it as to-read
Aug 04, 2014
Bethany Nelson
Bethany Nelson marked it as to-read
Jun 08, 2014
BeckBe added it
Apr 06, 2014
Ansil Hosein
Ansil Hosein marked it as to-read
Mar 18, 2014
Geoff marked it as to-read
Mar 11, 2014
Jeanne is currently reading it
Feb 21, 2014
Jamie Wilson
Jamie Wilson marked it as to-read
Jan 29, 2014
Red added it
Dec 29, 2013
Jerrod marked it as to-read
Sep 02, 2013
Mason marked it as to-read
May 23, 2013
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
The Chess Artist: Genius, Obsession, and the World's Oldest Game The Hospital for Bad Poets The Story About the Story: Great Writers Explore Great Literature In Utopia: Six Kinds of Eden and the Search for a Better Paradise Wm & H'ry: Literature, Love, and the Letters between Wiliam and Henry James

Share This Book