An evangelical-focused anti-Trump book that carries academic weight.

JESUS AND JOHN WAYNE

HOW WHITE EVANGELICALS CORRUPTED A FAITH AND FRACTURED A NATION

Masculinity and militarism in the evangelical movement.

History professor Du Mez traces the roles of gender, race, and nationalism through the modern history of the Christian evangelical movement, from the rise of Billy Graham to the election of Donald Trump. “For conservative white evangelicals,” writes the author, “the ‘good news’ of the Christian Gospel has become inextricably linked to a staunch commitment to patriarchal authority, gender difference, and Christian nationalism, and all of these are intertwined with white racial identity.” Faced with the prospect of communism as early as the late 1940s, white evangelicals began espousing a masculinized, even militarized version of Christianity. This trend made heroes out of particularly masculine religious leaders such as Graham as well as outspoken personalities like actor John Wayne. “Through his films and his politics,” Du Mez writes, “Wayne established himself as the embodiment of rugged, all-American masculinity,” and his “masculinity was unapologetically imperialist.” Reacting to societal unrest and rebellion, conservatives such as psychologist James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, advocated for strict discipline of children and patriarchal control of the home through the 1970s and ’80s. With the end of the Cold War, evangelicals turned their attentions to moral issues, fighting liberalism through such mouthpieces as Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly. After 9/11, evangelicals turned their attention to militant Islam, invigorating the movement because “militant evangelicalism was always at its strongest with a clear enemy to fight.” Barack Obama also provided evangelicals with fodder for activism. “Trump,” writes Du Mez, is “a man whose rugged masculinity was forged in 1950s America, a time when all was right with the world,” and he became “the culmination of [evangelicals’] half-century-long pursuit of a militant Christian masculinity.” Despite a few moments of overt subjectivity, the well-researched narrative is reasoned and dispassionate. While the author often paints with a broad brush, characterizing white evangelicals throughout as racist, hypernationalistic, and utterly patriarchal, readers not on the fringe right will find it difficult to take issue with her arguments.

An evangelical-focused anti-Trump book that carries academic weight.

Pub Date: June 23, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-63149-573-1

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Liveright/Norton

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 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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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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