Contentious Spirits explores the role of religion in Korean American history during the first half of the twentieth century in Hawai'i and California. Historian David K. Yoo argues that religion is the most important aspect of this group's experience because its structures and sensibilities address the full range of human experience. Framing the book are three relational themes: religion & race, migration & exile, and colonialism & independence. In an engaging narrative, Yoo documents the ways in which religion shaped the racialization of Korean in the United States, shows how religion fueled the transnational migration of Korean Americans and its connections to their exile, and details a story in which religion intertwined with the visions and activities of independence even as it was also entangled in colonialism. The first book-length study of religion in Korean American history, it will appeal to academics and general readers interested in Asian American history, American religious history, and ethnic studies.