Douglas L. Winiarski is professor of religious studies and American studies at the University of Richmond.
According to Regal and Esposito, everything you think you know about the Jersey Devil is wrong. The real story of the Jersey Devil’s birth is far more interesting, complex, and important than most people—believers and skeptics alike—realize. Leaving the Pine Barrens, Regal and Esposito turn instead to the varied political and cultural roots behind the Devil’s creation. Fascinating and lively, this book finds the origins of New Jersey’s favorite monster not in witchcraft or an unnatural liaison between woman and devil but in the bare-knuckled political fights and religious upheavals of colonial America. A product of innuendo and rumor, as well as scandal and media hype, the Jersey Devil enjoys a rich history involving land grabs, astrological predictions, mermaids and dinosaur bones, sideshows, Napoleon Bonaparte’s brother, a cross-dressing royal governor, and Founding Father Benjamin Franklin.