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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A scattershot exercise in preaching to the choir.

THE WAR ON THE WEST

A British journalist fulminates against Black Lives Matter, critical race theory, and other threats to White privilege.

“There is an assault going on against everything to do with the Western world—its past, present, and future.” So writes Spectator associate editor Murray, whose previous books have sounded warnings against the presumed dangers of Islam and of non-Western immigration to the West. As the author argues, Westerners are supposed to take in refugees from Africa, Asia, and Latin America while being “expected to abolish themselves.” Murray soon arrives at a crux: “Historically the citizens of Europe and their offspring societies in the Americas and Australasia have been white,” he writes, while the present is bringing all sorts of people who aren’t White into the social contract. The author also takes on the well-worn subject of campus “wokeness,” a topic of considerable discussion by professors who question whether things have gone a bit too far; indeed, the campus is the locus for much of the anti-Western sentiment that Murray condemns. The author’s arguments against reparations for past damages inflicted by institutionalized slavery are particularly glib. “It comes down to people who look like the people to whom a wrong was done in history receiving money from people who look like the people who may have done the wrong,” he writes. “It is hard to imagine anything more likely to rip apart a society than attempting a wealth transfer based on this principle.” Murray does attempt to negotiate some divides reasonably, arguing against “exclusionary lines” and for Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s call for a more vigorous and welcoming civil culture. Too often, however, the author falters, as when he derides Gen. Mark Milley for saying, “I want to understand white rage. And I’m white”—perhaps forgetting the climacteric White rage that Milley monitored on January 6, 2021.

A scattershot exercise in preaching to the choir.

Pub Date: April 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-316202-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Broadside Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2022

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