A remarkably forthright and uncompromising exploration of Catholic conscience.

DIGNITY & JUSTICE

WELCOMING THE STRANGER AT OUR BORDER

A Christian assessment of the immigration crisis at the United States’ southern border.

In her nonfiction debut, Dakin-Grimm draws on many years of experience as a lawyer, including six years as an immigration attorney, to help readers understand the current situation facing immigrants to the United States—particularly unaccompanied kids at the U.S.–Mexico border. Along the way, she diagnoses complications in the system and offers potential resolutions. Her study was prompted, in large part, by her personal feelings as a practicing Christian; in her “mostly white, affluent Catholic parish” in California, she writes, “I had never heard a Sunday homily that even mentioned the word ‘immigration,’ much less the phenomenon of these unaccompanied children.” Here, she presents details about these minors and their families and tries to explain why they risk so much in order to come to the United States. She also addresses how devout Catholics can approach the various issues that immigration raises. To do so, she provides a series of detailed profiles, using first names only; Gilberto, for instance, fled the violence of Guatemala’s MS-13 gangs and entered the United States in 2014, seeking asylum. However, Dakin-Grimm explains, the U.S. government “simply does not grant asylum to most of the people we know have suffered terribly, and who we believe to be genuinely fleeing persecution, poverty, terror, wars, famine, and atrocities.” Despite the odds, however, Gilberto eventually got his green card in 2017 and now seeks to become an American citizen. Through these and other stories, the author efficiently dramatizes the struggles of many such seekers, and she uses the accounts to help educate fellow Catholics on their broader implications.

“Jesus never permits us to weigh the value of [immigrants’] lives against other existing difficulties, to turn our backs, or to send them away,” she asserts. “Catholics may never do so, even if U.S. law allows precisely that response.” In polished, well-sourced prose, Dakin-Grimm expounds on the historical and theological roots of the Catholic ethos, tracing them back to St. Thomas Aquinas (“good is to be promoted and evil is to be avoided”) and continuing the throughline to modern-day popes, such as John Paul II; she quotes the latter’s 1993 encyclical Veritatis Splendor, which affirmed the existence of moral absolutes as well as their opposites: “certain specific kinds of behavior that are always wrong to choose.” Indeed, the most memorable parts of Dakin-Grimm’s book bracingly dig into such Catholic principles, and she’s refreshingly unyielding on the moral demands that faith places on the faithful: “Catholics may never legitimately conclude that decent suffering people…can be ignored or turned away.” The book also doesn’t flinch from events of the last few years, noting that the Trump administration’s policies resulted in “one of the darkest moments in modern U.S. history.” Throughout, her tone is empathetic and ethical, and some of her Catholic readers may feel chastised as they read. At the same time, they’ll be thrilled to see such a clear case for faith-based compassion.

A remarkably forthright and uncompromising exploration of Catholic conscience.

Pub Date: Aug. 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62698-381-6

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Orbis

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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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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