A well-researched and timely work of journalism geared toward like-minded readers.

AMERICAN PROPHETS

THE RELIGIOUS ROOTS OF PROGRESSIVE POLITICS AND THE ONGOING FIGHT FOR THE SOUL OF THE COUNTRY

The role of the modern "Religious Left" in American politics.

Religion reporter Jenkins delves deeply into the origins, activities, and leadership of the Religious Left, a movement he describes as “an amorphous, ever-changing group of progressive, faith-based advocates, strategists, and political operatives.” The author highlights the widespread—though not always widely recognized—role that progressive faith communities have long held in political and social causes. Jenkins illuminates these causes through stories of individual leaders of specific movements. After an introductory chapter discussing how faith communities were essential in the passage of the Affordable Care Act, the author segues into a discussion of Barack Obama’s own expressions of faith in public discourse. He then covers a number of well-known movements from the past two decades and important leaders associated with them. Examples include the Rev. William Barber with North Carolina’s Moral Mondays, the Rev. Traci Blackmon with Black Lives Matter, and Sioux activist Chase Iron Eyes with the Standing Rock protests. Jenkins goes on to cover a number of other topics, such as the Religious Left’s role in LGBTQ activism, the influence of Roman Catholicism in the environmental movement, and interfaith organizing to support the Muslim community. Beyond providing stories of the Religious Left, Jenkins attempts to determine how it has operated in politics and society. For example, he writes, “to understand the New Sanctuary movement [which advocates for immigrants] is to understand how the Religious Left builds power through a mixture of moral arguments, liberation theology, and the art of protest.” Throughout, Jenkins analyzes as well as reports, adding further value to his work. The author has provided a contemporary history that will be useful to students of the intersection of politics and religion in our current era.

A well-researched and timely work of journalism geared toward like-minded readers.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-293598-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: HarperOne

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2020

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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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HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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