If the book is a spur to sober reflection, it is also an enjoyable read. Engaging storylines and a wild cast of characters keep the pages turning, even as Wigger deftly uses the story of PTL to explore much wider developments: of evangelical involvement with the television industry, the evolution of the prosperity gospel, and more. It is perhaps fitting that this definitive history of the Bakkers and PTL is at once edifying and entertaining—a tribute, in that sense, to what might have been.
Heath W. Carter teaches history at Valparaiso University. He is the author of Union Made: Working People and the Rise of Social Christianity in Chicago (Oxford University Press) and a co-editor of Turning Points in the History of American Evangelicalism (Eerdmans).