From the ratification of the First Amendment to the conflict over an Islamic community center near Ground Zero, America has been marked by a profound religious diversity. The variety of religious communities in America, and the tensions that often erupt among them, have shaped the nation’s social, cultural, political, and economic development.
By 1920, Chicago had become “the literary capital of the United States,” according to one of the nation’s influential cultural arbiters, H. L. Mencken. Indeed, American literature of the period bore an aesthetic shaped by a palpable confrontation with the city’s railroads, skyscrapers, and stockyards. Chicago helped produce many of the most important writers of the era.