Conversions: Two Family Stories from the Reformation and Modern America

A powerful, engrossing new work, by award-winning cultural historian Craig Harline, explores the effects of religious conversion on two families—one in 17th-century Holland, the other in America today

FOR RELEASE: Publication Date: September 15, 2011

In this brilliant new book, gifted cultural historian Craig Harline explores the effects of religious conversion on family relation-ships, showing how the challenges of the Reformation can offer insight to families facing similarly divisive situations today. The book begins with the story of young Jacob Rolandus, the son of a Dutch Reformed preacher, who converted to Catholicism in 1654 and ran away from home, causing his family to disown him. In the companion story, Michael Sunbloom, a young American, leaves his family's religion in 1973 to convert to Mormonism, similarly upsetting his distraught parents. The modern twist to Michael’s story is his realization that he is gay, causing him to leave his new church, and upsetting his parents again—but this time the family reconciles.

Recounting these stories in short, alternating chapters, Harline underscores the parallel aspects of the two far-flung families. Despite different outcomes and forms, their situations involve nearly identical dynamics and heart-wrenching choices. Through the author’s deeply informed imagination, the experiences of a seventeenth-century European family are transformed into immediately recognizable terms.

About the Author: Craig Harline is professor of history at Brigham Young University, and the award-winning author of five previous books, including Miracles at the Jesus Oak: Histories of the Supernatural in Reformation Europe, a rich, evocative journey into the seventeenth century and the testimonies of miracles and wonders that transformed the lives of ordinary people; and Sunday: A History of the First Day from Babylonia to the Super Bowl, both newly available in paperback from Yale University Press. For more information or to arrange an interview with the author, please contact: Robert Pranzatelli, (203) 432-0972,

Conversions: Two Family Stories from the Reformation and Modern America, by Craig Harline
Price: $27.50 * ISBN: 978-0-300-16701-6 Cloth * eBook ISBN: 978-0-300-16741-2
* 320 pages, with 3 b/w illus.
Publication date: September 15, 2011

About the Series: The New Directions in Narrative History series includes original works of creative nonfiction across the many fields of history and related disciplines.  Based on new research, the books in this series offer significant scholarly contributions while also embracing stylistic innovation as well as the classic techniques of storytelling.  The works of the New Directions in Narrative History series, intended for the broadest general readership, speak to deeply human concerns about the past, present, and future of our world and its people.

Robert Pranzatelli


Yale University Press

(203) 432-0972

Yale University Press is a premiere scholarly book publisher of art, architecture, business, economics, environmental studies, history, law, literature,  philosophy, political science, psychology, reference, religion, science, and world languages titles.



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