A searing, stirring outline of the historical and contemporary significance of white Christian nationalism.

A historian reframes the nation’s legacy of racial prejudice.

In his latest, Jones, the author of White Too Long and The End of White Christian America, argues persuasively that the ideological origins of American racism are best understood in relation to religious edicts dating back to the late 15th century. The Catholic Church’s Doctrine of Discovery gave divine sanction to the imperialist ambitions of white Christians and provided rationalizations for centuries of violence directed against nonwhite peoples. In tracing out this history of toxic ideas and their real-world consequences, the author focuses on three representative outrages from the 20th century: the murder of Emmett Till in Mississippi in 1955, the lynching of three Black circus workers in Minnesota in 1920, and the murders of hundreds of African Americans during the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921. As Jones shows, rather than isolated events, these explosions of racist aggression and justifications invoking white supremacy form a consistent pattern in each region’s history, beginning with the targeting of Indigenous peoples. Through its linking of narratives typically considered separately, the book provides a revelatory view of U.S. history and its guiding assumptions. “If we do the hard work of pushing upriver, we find that the same waters that produced the Negro problem also spawned the Indian problem,” writes Jones. “If we dare to go further, at the headwaters is the white Christian problem.” In the final sections, the author emphasizes the relevance of ongoing political battles over the interpretation of history and acknowledgements of culpability. “Across the spectrum of issues, and from national presidential elections to local school board meetings,” he writes, “the most vehement and visceral fights to come will likely center not on policy but on historical narratives, public rituals, and civic spaces.” Jones makes the value of carrying out this conceptual reframing urgently apparent.

A searing, stirring outline of the historical and contemporary significance of white Christian nationalism.

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9781668009512

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 7, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2023


The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

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


Deliberately provocative, with much for left-inclined activists to ponder.

A wide-ranging critique of leftist politics as not being left enough.

Continuing his examination of progressive reform movements begun with The Cult of Smart, Marxist analyst deBoer takes on a left wing that, like all political movements, is subject to “the inertia of established systems.” The great moment for the left, he suggests, ought to have been the summer of 2020, when the murder of George Floyd and the accumulated crimes of Donald Trump should have led to more than a minor upheaval. In Minneapolis, he writes, first came the call from the city council to abolish the police, then make reforms, then cut the budget; the grace note was “an increase in funding to the very department it had recently set about to dissolve.” What happened? The author answers with the observation that it is largely those who can afford it who populate the ranks of the progressive movement, and they find other things to do after a while, even as those who stand to benefit most from progressive reform “lack the cultural capital and economic stability to have a presence in our national media and politics.” The resulting “elite capture” explains why the Democratic Party is so ineffectual in truly representing minority and working-class constituents. Dispirited, deBoer writes, “no great American revolution is coming in the early twenty-first century.” Accommodation to gradualism was once counted heresy among doctrinaire Marxists, but deBoer holds that it’s likely the only truly available path toward even small-scale gains. Meanwhile, he scourges nonprofits for diluting the tax base. It would be better, he argues, to tax those who can afford it rather than allowing deductible donations and “reducing the availability of public funds for public uses.” Usefully, the author also argues that identity politics centering on difference will never build a left movement, which instead must find common cause against conservatism and fascism.

Deliberately provocative, with much for left-inclined activists to ponder.

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9781668016015

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2023

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