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Publisher's Summary

No drinking.
No smoking.
No cursing.
No dancing.
No R-rated movies.

Kevin Roose wasn't used to rules like these. As a sophomore at Brown University, he spent his days drinking fair-trade coffee, singing in an a cappella group, and fitting right in with Brown's free-spirited, ultra-liberal student body. But when Roose leaves his Ivy League confines to spend a semester at Liberty University, a conservative Baptist school in Lynchburg, Virginia, obedience is no longer optional.

Liberty is the late Reverend Jerry Falwell's "Bible Boot Camp" for young evangelicals, his training ground for the next generation of America's Religious Right. Liberty's 10,000 undergraduates take courses like Evangelism 101, hear from guest speakers like Sean Hannity and Karl Rove, and follow a 46-page code of conduct that regulates every aspect of their social lives. Hoping to connect with his evangelical peers, Roose decides to enroll at Liberty as a new transfer student, leaping across the God Divide and chronicling his adventures in this daring report from the front lines of America's culture war.

His journey takes him from an evangelical hip-hop concert to choir practice at Falwell's legendary Thomas Road Baptist Church. He experiments with prayer, participates in a spring break mission trip to Daytona Beach (where he learns to preach the gospel to partying coeds), and pays a visit to Every Man's Battle, an on-campus support group for chronic masturbators. He meets pastors' kids, closet doubters, Christian rebels, and conducts what would be the last print interview of Rev. Falwell's life.

Hilarious and heartwarming, respectful and thought-provoking, The Unlikely Disciple will inspire and entertain believers and nonbelievers alike.

©2009 Kevin Roose (P)2010 Hachette

Critic Reviews

"Kevin Roose has produced a textured, intelligent, even sympathetic, account of his semester at Liberty University. He eschews caricature and the cheap shot in favor of keen observation and trenchant analysis. The Unlikely Disciple is a book of uncommon wisdom and insight. I recommend it with enthusiasm." (The Rev. Dr. Randall Balmer, Episcopal Priest and Professor of American Religious History at Barnard College, Columbia University)

What listeners say about The Unlikely Disciple

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Timothy
  • 27-10-10

A good listen

I enjoyed this book. I am an American evangelical pursuing a PhD in theology in the UK. Although I did not attend Liberty, I know what it can be like on "the inside" so I thought this would be an enjoyable book. This book is at its best when Roose is open an honest, and attempts to give a fair listen the liberals and conservatives alike. To be honest, Roose was more equitable to evangelicals than I expected. I also really enjoyed the author reading the book. A few memorable lines stick in my head such as the possibility of Jersey Joey saying, "Roosta, you been lyin' to us?"
Why I gave it 4 stars: I think Roose is a great reporter and a good writer for his age, but I feel like some of the low points of the book were when he decided to theologize. Although he was familiar with terms such as theodicy or Calvinism, he simply does not have the training to write off certain aspects of theology or evangelicalism as he does at times. With that said, I really enjoyed the listen and would read/listen to another book by this author.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Lila
  • 23-04-11

Impressive work of non-fiction

Don't read this if you're looking for a cynical exposé of the religious right. Don't read this if you're looking for a sugar-coated story of Christian conversion. The Unlikely Disciple is neither of those. It's a nuanced and non-jaded account of the author's "study abroad" experience inside Jerry Falwell's Liberty University. Along with The Faith Club, this book belongs on reading lists for college courses, book clubs and discussion groups interested in healing our nation's religious and cultural divide. Not only is Kevin Roose a prodigious writer--there's no other explanation for this high a level of achievement at so young an age--he's also a wise person and a corrective role model for those of us prone to judging and stereotyping the "other."

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Aaron L. M. Goodwin
  • 21-09-10

Open-minded and honest

At first I was cynical that the premise to this book could be fleshed out without a whole bunch of misunderstandings and misrepresentation of "religious folk", but Roose does a tremendous job of detailing the spiritual and social spectra of the evangelical community. Spending a semester at Liberty College, the Brigham Young University of the evangelical world, Roose throws himself into life of a Liberty student 100% and comes away sharing a refreshingly open-minded, if not Christ-like account of these experiences.

Now, a warning, this book handles controversial and sensitive subjects which may not be suitable for younger readers, but Roose handles these topics in respectful yet interesting ways. I think any person would come away from this book with a greater desire to love and know those that don't believe as they do. It's inspiring to say the least.

Roose does an excellent job narrating, and you come away wanting to hang out with the guy and all his Liberty Friends.

3 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Jeffrey
  • 14-10-11

Unlikely surprise

Usually wary of an author narrating own book but this is an exception, Since it was from Roose' personal experience and somewhat tenderly told this seems to work. Most touching are his personal relationships with others so philosophically different you might expect something like a "red state/blue state" hatred fest. Fortunately, you won't find that here.
Opinion: Perhaps our FOX News mentality can take a hint from Roose and deal with others of different positions in similar fashion. Maybe I'm dreaming about FOX but Roose has a better handle on the term "fair and balanced" with The Unlikely Disciple.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Daryl
  • 16-07-17

I Swallowed it Whole

A friend recommended this book to me recently.
As a practicing Christian, I was skeptical of how Kevin Roose (a liberal non-church-going 19-year-old) would treat many who proclaim my faith.
he spent a semester at Liberty University, a university that (while not the most conservative out there) ranks quite high on the conservative scale. Kevin wanted to explore the "God divide". His parents and his friends at Brown were concerned that the experience would change him...
And it did. But not in the ways one might think.
It's been a VERY long time since I sat down and read an entire audiobook start to finish (I usually read on my commute to work, picking it up and putting it down as my bus gets to my stop or my lunch break ends). I read this book on a Saturday and couldn't turn it off. I read it while I was going for a run, doing chores around my house, and even refused to go to sleep until I finished the book and the author interview at the end.
Kevin refuses to give easy pat answers for why people believe what they believe. He refuses to demonize those who he disagrees with (such as the man who counsels homosexuals at the school), even as he questions their methodology. He meets conformists and rebels, struggling saints and sanctified sinners.
No matter what you think about conservatism and Christianity, this book will make you think.
If you are a Christian, it's important to read this book, to understand how words and actions can appear to those around you. If you aren't a Christian, or have problems with Christianity specifically, read this book and meet some folks who may have more in common with you than you'd think.
Well worth your time, money and credit.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Karl
  • 01-07-21

Excellent and insightful

One of the best Audiobooks around. Really insightful and interesting and written in a way that is unbiased. Interesting for a young South African to see what us happening in the US.

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  • joey carbo
  • 11-06-21

My judgment is probably as harsh as the author’s should have been

He takes it way too easy on the ultimate “us vs them” group that it is high time we stopped pretending is not a cult. Christianity is truly a bizarre death cult.
Besides that, book comes off as a puff piece at worst and a softball approach at journalism at best.

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  • S. Jaff
  • 10-06-21

Weirdly soothing

I totally enjoyed this book- it wasn’t insanely dramatic or heart stopping but it made for an excellent and enjoyable listen. I also love the author’s podcast Rabbit Hole.

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  • Sean Grossnickle
  • 01-01-21

A Fascinating Outcome of Intellectual Curiosity

This a such a well written book that explores this man's encounter with strangers in a strange land. Well written and humorous, it gives an honest look at evangelicals and their lives, worries, and struggles. Highly recommend.

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  • Blueyes2012
  • 19-04-18

Great listen!!

This is a really good book!! I was so surprised the first chapter I didn’t take it seriously.. but then I had to finish it!!! I highly recommend this! It will make you smirk, laugh, and unfortunately sad. Most of all.. it will make you think!

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  • Andrew
  • 31-05-14

Fascinating story and well read

Any additional comments?

The highlight of the audiobook is that the author of the memoir reads it and does the voices of his friends at Liberty University. Bonus highlight, he even sings the mnemonic song for remembering the order of the books of the New Testament!

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Marie age 40
  • 16-05-21

Not to bad good information but a bit slow at time

It was a good information but slow at times but overall good book God bless