The forward to the eighth edition of this important text recounts the beginnings of Melton’s interest in American religious groups. After encountering Elmer T. Clark’s "Small Sects in America" as a teenager, Melton sold his baseball cards and began collecting information about America’s religious groups. Over the years, Melton developed a set of criteria and an organizing principle for the volume that has proven valuable to students and scholars for more than 30 years. Three introductory essays open the volume: “The Development of American Religion: An Interpretive View,” “Religion in Canada: A Historical Survey, 1500 to the Present” and “American Religion in the Twenty-first Century.” These overviews provide historical context and project trends among American religious groups. The main body of the volume is organized into the 24 major American religious families, plus unclassified Christian churches and unclassified religious groups. Within each of these sections is an historical essay chronicling the development of the particular religious family, followed by detailed descriptions of the religious groups—now numbering more than 2,300—which fall into that family. This organization allows researchers to quickly grasp the roots of a particular group’s beliefs and practices. The consistent pattern of reporting a religious group’s information—names and acronyms, address, description of the group, membership, educational facilities, periodicals issued by the group and additional remarks—also allows for easy comparison across religious groups. Controversial topics are not avoided, but religious groups’ own positions on such controversies are presented in an unbiased way. Charts and maps are new to this edition, which includes an appendix of defunct religious groups, as well as a geographic and a general index. Highly recommended for high schools with comparative religion courses and for both public and university libraries.