Dennis Covington, reporter for the New York Times, was sent to cover the attempted-murder trial of an Alabama preacher. The preacher was the leader of a holiness snake handling church and supposedly used rattlesnakes to try and kill his wife. Eventually, the case closed, the preacher got ninety-nine years, and Covington couldn’t let go of the ecstatic Pentecostal culture he found. He went to more and more snake handling church services trying to devise why and how people use these dangerous reptiles in their worship. Salvation on Sand Mountain is Covington’s record of how he became an insider in this unique, fervent form of faith.