As immediate and relevant as today's headlines, Captain America and the Crusade against Evil boldly argues that American crusading -- so powerfully embodied in popular entertainments -- has striking parallels with Islamic jihad and Israeli militancy. According to Robert Jewett and John Shelton Lawrence, American civil religion has both a humane, constitutional tradition and a violent strand that is now coming to the fore. The crusade to rid the world of evil and "evildoers" derives from the same biblical tradition of zealous warfare and nationalism that spawns Islamic and Israeli radicalism. American crusading ideals, drawing on both secular and religious images, are visible in such events as the settling of the western frontier, the Cold War, the Gulf War, and America's present war on terrorism. In exploring the tradition of zealous nationalism, Jewett and Lawrence provide a fascinating access to the inner workings of the American psyche. They analyze the phenomenon of zeal -- the biblical and cultural counterpart of Islamic jihad -- and address such consequential topics as the conspiracy theory of evil, the problem of stereotyping enemies, the mystique of violence, the obsession with victory, and the worship of national symbols such as flags. This critical book, however, is also immensely constructive. As Jewett and Lawrence point out, the same biblical tradition that allows for crusading mentalities also contains a critique of zealous warfare and a vision of impartial justice under law. This tradition of prophetic realism derives from the humane side of the biblical heritage, and the authors trace its manifestations within the American experience, including its supreme embodiment inAbraham Lincoln. Combining incisive cultural analysis and keen religious insight, Captain America and the Crusade against Evil is sure to provoke much soul-searching and wide debate.