In a book for readers from both parties, Kruse ably demonstrates how the simple ornamental mottoes “under God” and “In God...

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ONE NATION UNDER GOD

HOW CORPORATE AMERICA INVENTED CHRISTIAN AMERICA

Kruse (History/Princeton Univ.; White Flight: Atlanta and the Making of Modern Conservatism, 2007, etc.) explains the links between capitalism and Christianity.

This history is linked to industry’s reaction to reform, born during the Progressive Era, revived by the New Deal and perfected during the Cold War. The rise of the Social Gospel movement under Theodore Roosevelt redefined Christianity as faith concerned with the public good more than personal salvation. Business leaders saw new regulations as a threat to their bottom lines and looked for help redefining their roles. The author credits three men and their movements that helped build “Christian Libertarianism”: James Fifield’s Spiritual Motivation Group, Abraham Vereide’s prayer breakfast meetings and Billy Graham’s evangelical revivals. Major corporations, prominent industrialists and business lobbies supported these evangelists, who were promoting free enterprise. Using scare tactics and playing up the links between piety and patriotism, these groups sold faith and freedom. Who would be so foolish as to deny or fight either? As Kruse explains the connections, readers will begin to understand that the rallies to promote church participation and fights for school prayer were basically big business’s drive to eliminate the welfare state and labor unions. Throughout the book, the author exposes big money’s manipulation of the masses. The religious leaders no doubt had good intentions, but many of them became rich promoting the evils of unions and the dangers of socialism. Beginning with Dwight Eisenhower, Republican presidents continued the fight. Enter Madison Avenue and Hollywood, and the propaganda drive and the sacralization of the state were in full tilt.

In a book for readers from both parties, Kruse ably demonstrates how the simple ornamental mottoes “under God” and “In God We Trust,” as well as the fight to define America as Christian, were parts of a clever business plan.

Pub Date: April 7, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-465-04949-3

Page Count: 350

Publisher: Basic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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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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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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