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The Salvation Army (Paperback)

150 Years of Blood and Fire

P&S History > British History > Victorian History P&S History > By Century > 19th Century P&S History > By Century > 20th Century World History > UK & Ireland > England > London

By Stephen Huggins
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 272
ISBN: 9781399098267
Published: 30th July 2024


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In 2015 the Salvation Army celebrated the 150th anniversary of its birth in the poverty and squalor of London’s East End. Today the Army is to be found in towns and cities throughout Britain, its members readily recognised through their military uniform and their reputation for good works widely acknowledged. Many people, however, are unaware of the origins and subsequent development of the organisation. At times Salvationists were imprisoned, beaten up in street riots and ridiculed in the press for their religious beliefs. Despite this persecution the Army put in place a programme of help for the poor and marginalised of such ambition that it radically altered social thinking about poverty.

There have been very few attempts at writing a wider and accessible account which locates the Army in its historical context. This is something of an omission given that it has made a unique contribution to the changing social, cultural and religious landscape of Britain. The Salvation Army: 150 years of Blood and Fire aims to provide a history of the organisation for the general reader and is for anyone who is interested in the interplay of people, ideas and events. The book reveals how the story of the Salvation Army raises fundamental questions about issues of power, class, gender and race in modern society; all as pertinent today as they were in Victorian Britain. The Salvation Army: 150 years of Blood and Fire also makes an extensive use of pictures illustrative of the Army’s history gathered from around the world, most of which have never previously been published.

Written during the 150th anniversary of the foundation of the Salvation Army, this abundantly illustrated work presents the history of the movement, focusing on its origins and the implementation of founder William Booth’s (1829-1912) major institutions. In fact, the first seven chapters trace its roots in Booth’s ministry in the Methodist Church and the East London Christian Mission, its beginnings and the adoption of its name, its first social works, the reform plan proposed in Booth’s book In Darkest England (1890), its involvement in times of numerous armed conflicts and calamities, its international dimension, in particular its presence in the United States, South Africa and India, and finally its use of the media. A final chapter broaches issues of leadership and its relationship with modernity, questioning the difference between Booth's pioneering character and the authoritarian and outdated image of The Salvation Army today.

Finished with two tables, which summarise the Salvation Army’s response to crises from 1977 to 2017 and the beginnings of its presence in 129 other countries, and equipped with an extensive bibliography and index, this book provides a good overview of the early days of the movement that calls for further scientific study.

(translated from the original French by P&S).

ISTINA magazine

This was a really interesting read, started by the Booth’s who really seemed to care about society and community. I would happily tell people to give this book a read.

Read the Full Review Here

The History Fella

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

What an amazing book. I am not a practising Christian as I no longer attend church but I have always loved the Salvation Army knowing some of the good that they do. The history of this wonderful Christian group left me shaking my head many times as I read of all the things that was achieved and how the mainstream Christians tried to ban them as they did not fit the middle and upper class systems. I grew up waiting for the Sunday when they came to where we lived and sang accompanied by their wonderful brass band. My father was a fire officer and I knew that at every disaster they were there to support the workers and injured with food, warm drinks and comforting words abounding. My fond memories made me chose this book and I was amazed at everything that I read, I wish that I could have met William and Catherine Booth as they were two people who really understood human nature and how best to always help people. We could do with someone like them to run our country with empathy and entrepreneurial wisdom.
This was a wonderful book full of so much goodness that I felt a warm feeling inside after I had read it.

NetGalley, Sandra Miller

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Fascinating book, I'm not religious but have interest in how salvation army started.
They sadly had struggles due people not understanding the good they do.
Very well written, worth reading.

NetGalley, Karen Bull

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I have always been intrigued by the Salvation Army and their "roll up the sleeves" version of Christianity. Fortunately, there are books like this that give whole story, and it is entertaining as well. I love it when history is told so well.

NetGalley, Mike Michelsen

About Stephen Huggins

Stephen Huggins is from Hove, East Sussex where he lived close to the local Salvation Army Citadel and observed their marching brass band each Sunday evening. He gained a B.Ed. (Hons.) in Religious Studies, a M.A. in History & Sociology and taught these subjects for more than 30 years. In 2020 Stephen wrote The Mob and the Mayor which examines the anti-Salvation Army riots in Eastbourne during the 1880s. He is a Member of the Royal Historical Society.

Salvation Army founder William Booth marries Catherine Mumford

16th June 1855

Salvation Army founder William Booth marries Catherine Mumford

View all events View all anniversaries

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