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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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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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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