A thoughtful and thorough examination of the intersection of public policy and ideology.

Deadly Progressivism

THE POLITICAL AND SCIENTIFIC THREAT TO HUMANITY IN 21ST CENTURY AMERICA

A debut book examines the connection between political progressivism and the practice of eugenics.

As Reilly explains, eugenics began not as an aggressive program of social engineering, but as a response to monumental advancements in technology and science. In addition, the original 20th-century advocates of eugenics, albeit infected with a bout of excessive exuberance, were largely motivated by the best of intentions. But later, eugenics became beholden to radical ideologies, which were animated by darker motivations. For example, Nazi racialism and global attempts at population control are the genealogical descendants of eugenics untethered from any sense of political moderation or a cautious respect for the sanctity of human life. Many readers will likely be surprised to learn how ubiquitous such programs were, even under the supervision of widely respectable institutions and leaders: “Even under the Reagan administration in 1984, an auditor found that USAID was supporting abortions, the imposition of penalties for high birth rates, and payment of financial rewards for sterilization in five countries.” The emphasis of the book is not on the science of eugenics per se, but the marriage between its advocacy and the ideals of modern progressivism. Infatuated with the goal of societal perfection, and science as the means to achieving it, progressivism gradually became insensitive both to individual rights and the limits of human nature. Reilly’s prose is thankfully more journalistic than academic, and a full appreciation of the book does not require a prior understanding of eugenics and its fraught history. For the most part, he avoids any axe-grinding political commitments, although his analysis of more recent versions of progressivism is a bit heavy-handed, especially his views of their assault on traditional values. And a more historically searching view of the relationship between modern, liberal progressivism and an ideology as illiberal as Nazism would have deepened the study. Finally, Reilly makes a plea at the conclusion of the volume for the religiously inclined, especially Christians, to unite against social engineering, but never fully fleshes out what that response should entail. His study remains a provocative and accessible one, though, that forces the reader to reconsider the parameters of contentious debates like abortion and stem cell research.

A thoughtful and thorough examination of the intersection of public policy and ideology.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 159

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 13, 2016

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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