Ann Seaman

"Swaggart: The Unauthorized Biography Of An American Evangelist"

Winner, 1999 Carr P. Collins Award, Texas Institute of Letters, Best Work of Non-Fiction.

From Shana Alexander, author of "Very Much a Lady: The Untold Story of Jean Harris and Dr. Herman Tarnower":
"Thumbs up! I couldn't put it down. It is a riveting family saga that brings to life the rural American South of the Thirties, Forties, and beyond...the reader comes to understand the roots of the Pentecostal movement and its drawing power."

From Will D. Campbell, author of "Brother to a Dragonfly":
"Seaman's Swaggart is reminiscent of Theodore Dreiser's An American Tragedy, Sinclair Lewis's Elmer Gantry, with a hefty portion of the prophet Elijah. All clothed in optimum Hollywood. More than any book I know, Seaman's Swaggart will survive as a definitive and entertaining account of the history, sociology, and theology of American Folk religion in the last half of the twentieth century."

From Publishers Weekly:
"An intelligent and smoothly readable personal history that chronicles a fascinating slice of Americana."

From Salon.com:
"...consistently fascinating, with its dead young brothers and sons, child brides, fleets of Cadillacs...[and] rise of the Christian right."

From The Economist:
Stories about preachers usually come in two types: hagiographies and hatchet jobs. Ann Seaman offers a more balanced view."

From Missiology:
“Richly textured, honest, tragic, ironic, respectful... intimately links Pentecostalism and its ‘evil twin,’ rock and roll.”

From a reader, Amazon.com:
"It engaged me from the first page....she nailed the [Southern] ambiance, the rules, the mores, the unspoken and the ineffable; she writes like a soulful cultural anthropologist....If you want to understand America, you need to read this book."

From Library Journal:
"Beginning with a fascinating look at his family background, the author traces Swaggart's rise from obscurity to fame, his fall (because of sexual misconduct), and his subsequent efforts to make a comeback. Along the way, the reader becomes acquainted with other celebrities...and catches a fascinating glimpse into behind-the-scenes religious power politics. Seaman neither whitewashes nor vilifies Swaggart, instead examining him and seeking explanation for both his tremendous accomplishments and tragic flaws...this honest, evenhanded biography strives for objectivity...Recommended for public and academic libraries."

From Christian Century:
"...you can almost smell the funk: the lust for money and fame...the emotional power of the pulpit [and] the Holy Spirit, and raw sex. "

From Booklist:
"At a Swaggart service, 'people stood up, clapped to the beat, sang out strongly...there was barely a whisper of difference between it and that devil's music played by Jimmy's cousins Jerry Lee Lewis and...Mickey Gilley.' Seaman keeps her ear on that whisper in the fullest portrait of Swaggart to date."

From a reader, Amazon.com:
"The parallels drawn between first cousins Jimmy Swaggart, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Mickey Gilley are striking. Ann Seaman is a cunning Southern story-teller who...manages to tease us along from chapter to chapter...Books like this help us to better understand the absurd hypocrisy which afflicted generations of Americans to the end of the 20th Century...This biography is well-written, insightful, and certainly deserving of its Pulitzer nomination."

From a reader, Amazon.com:
"I was most fascinated by the implication that the appeal of televangelists like Jimmy Swaggart is inherently sexual--as is the appeal of his musician cousins."

From a reader, Amazon.com:
"This beautifully written biography is an insightful and balanced look at Jimmy Swaggart and "big religion" in America and a fascinating analysis of the "evil twins" of Mr. Swaggart's religion and his cousin Jerry Lee Lewis' music...It is obvious that Ms. Seaman is from the South (Texas). She has a great feel for the poor rural South and portrays its people with understanding and sympathy, but without creating false heroes. The descriptive passages reminded me of William Faulkner."

From a reader, Amazon.com:
"This book surprised and delighted me. It is a well written story of the man and also of the whole history and background of the evangelical movement in that part of the world. I couldn't put it down, it was that good! Reads like a novel, only it's all true. I highly recommend this book."

From a reader, Amazon.com:
"The Lewis-Swaggart-Gilley family is just as complex and interesting as the Kennedys, and may also justifiably be described as part of America's "aristocracy". If nothing else, they have come a long way from those tiny shacks, without running water or electricity, in Ferriday, Louisiana."

Selected Works

True Crime Biography
"...structured like a movie thriller...well balanced and thoroughly researched biography of a very complex woman."
--Secular Nation
Biography
"...remarkable...a mirror on the lurching changes in religion, sex and media in the late 20th century."
--Chicago Tribune