A selection of the month’s most noteworthy books, as discussed by The Wall Street Journal’s reviewers.

America’s Book: The Rise and Decline of a Bible Civilization, 1794-1911

By Mark A. Noll | Oxford

For much of its history, American society was awash in biblical ideas, themes and names — for good and ill. Review by DG Hart.

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The Great Passion

By James Runcie | Bloomsbury

The author of the “Grantchester” mysteries takes readers on an imagined sojourn in the house of JS Bach, hard at work on a masterpiece. Review by Boyd Tonkin.

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The Method: How the Twentieth Century Learned to Act

By Isaac Butler | Bloomsbury

Stanislavski brought his system for the creation of emotionally resonant drama to America. Actors embraced it — but few could agree on its meaning. Review by Willard Spiegelman.

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Mutinous Women: How French Convicts Became Founding Mothers of the Gulf Coast

By Joan DeJean | Basic

Many of the women that France first settled in its American colonies had been arrested for prostitution — or poverty — and shipped away. Review by Kathleen DuVal.

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Nazi Billionaires: The Dark History of Germany’s Wealthiest Dynasties

By David de Jong | Mariner

The lucrative legacy of colluding with Hitler lives on in the vast fortunes of fi ve German dynasties. Review by Diane Cole.

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The Perfect Sound: A Memoir in Stereo

By Garrett Hongo | Pantheon

Can the right turntable or the ideal amp bring a listener to auditory nirvana? One music lover was determined to find out. Review by Daniel J. Levitin.

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The Right: The Hundred Year War for American Conservatism

By Matthew Continetti | Basic

An account of the conservative movement that stresses the great variety of concerns — and in many cases the bitter disagreements — within its ranks. Review by Barton Swaim.

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Riverman: An American Odyssey

By Ben McGrath | Knopf

Richard Conant traded an ordinary life for a continent-spanning journey in a red plastic canoe. Then he vanished. Review by Heller McAlpin.

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Six California Kitchens

By Sally Schmitt | Chronicle

Before there were foodies or Instagram-ready restaurants, Sally Schmitt started a revolution at the original French Laundry. Review by Heller McAlpin.

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True: The Four Seasons of Jackie Robinson

By Kostya Kennedy | St. Martin’s

Having broken the “color barrier” in baseball, Jackie Robinson inevitably became a symbol in the national debate over race. But there is more to the story. Review by David M. Shribman.

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Victory at Sea: Naval Power and the Transformation of the Global Order in World War II

By Paul Kennedy | Yale

For both the Allies and the Axis, a crucial part of the struggle came down to dominance of the marine battlefield. Review by Brendan Simms.

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Winslow Homer: American Passage

By William R. Cross | Farrar, Straus and Giroux

No one captured 19th-century America like the painter Winslow Homer, who ranged widely in his subjects, while always seeking to capture human endurance. Review by Randall Fuller.

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