An indispensable study of Christianity in America.

WHITE TOO LONG

THE LEGACY OF WHITE SUPREMACY IN AMERICAN CHRISTIANITY

A scholar and commentator raised in the Southern Baptist Church clearly demonstrates “how intractably white supremacy has become embedded in the DNA of American Christianity.”

Growing up amid a religious tradition that believed “chattel slavery could flourish alongside the gospel of Jesus Christ,” Jones approaches his subject matter from both a personal and historical perspective. His book—a concise yet comprehensive combination of deeply documented religious history, social science research about contemporary religion, and heartfelt memoir—traces a path that began in the narrow world of Macon, Georgia, and other Jim Crow–infested Southern towns. He received a master of divinity degree from the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, but it wasn’t until he entered the doctorate program at Emory University that he understood “the brutal violence that white Christians deployed to resist black enfranchisement after the Civil War.” As Jones points out, those Christians were not limited to the Baptist faith. The author located race hatred embedded in the doctrines of other Christian churches, including Methodist, Episcopalian, Catholic, and countless other heavily white congregations. Even though he was shocked and disgusted by his discoveries, Jones held back from sharing those disturbing realizations widely, first conducting studies through his work at the organization he founded, the Public Religion Research Institute. Those consistently illuminating studies, mentioned throughout the book, paint a damning portrait. One example: “For all white Christian subgroups,” writes the author, “there is a positive relationship between holding racist attitudes and white Christian identity among both frequent (weekly or more) and infrequent church attenders.” The most hopeful case study focuses on his hometown of Macon, where there are efforts between white and black Baptist churches to pull together. As Jones has sought various paths out of the morass, he has often turned to the writings of James Baldwin about "the white problem" in U.S. society.

An indispensable study of Christianity in America.

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-2286-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 15, 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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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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