Book Reviews

"The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical" by Shane Claiborne

Reviewed by Ning Wu

Fueled by intensive campaigning from the Christian right, the wedge issues of abortion and gay marriage have dominated discussions of morality in this country -- in the media, in church and in public. These issues polarize and divide the country and promote prejudice and arrogance. To hear the spokespeople of the religious right one would conclude: (1) These are the most important issues of Christianity; (2) If you are Christian these two issues are a moral values litmus test; (3) If you are not a Christian, then you have no moral values. Ironically, this kind of "Christian" propaganda has made the Christian God less accessible to people like me.

I am not a Christian but when I finished reading Shane Claiborne’s Irresistible Revolution&, my first thought was "If all Christians were like Shane Claiborne, like the people in this book, I would want to be one of them."

Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical is the moving personal journey of Claiborne's search for the meaning of Christianity, and becoming a true follower of Jesus. It is thought provoking, profound, and at the same time hilarious. Once one starts to read, it is hard to put it down.

"Bush-League Spectacles" by Fran Shor

Reviewed by The Dubya Report staff.

Bush-League Spectacles, Fran Shor's terse new volume, is really two books in one. The first, which is a compilation of Shor's essays that first appeared on popular progressive web sites, such as Counterpunch, CommonDreams, and History News Network, treats the topics enumerated in the subtitle: Empire, Politics, and Culture in Bushwhacked America. The second, which Shor designates part four, consists of two short essays sketching the outline of a political response to the right wing trend that has been such a strong influence in this country for the last thirty years.

"Radicals in Robes: Why Right Wing Extremists are Wrong for America" by Cass R. Sunstein

Reviewed by Charles K.

Early in University of Chicago law professor Cass R. Sunstein’s prescient new book, Radicals in Robes: Why Right Wing Extremists are Wrong for America, Sunstein imagines a frightening scenario: states are permitted to ban contraceptives, government agencies like OSHA and the EPA are crippled, and the federal government is allowed to discriminate on the basis of race and sex. How could this dystopian future come to be?

"God's Politics" by Jim Wallis

Reviewed by Ning Wu

When Jim Wallis's book God's Politics first appeared, I was skeptical of a title that mixed religion and politics, and also of the subtitle's claim that "... the right gets it wrong and the left doesn't get it." After all, I have subscribed to what Wallis calls the "soulless politics of the left." After reading God's Politics, , however, I find that I not only agree with Wallis's assessment of the political left and right's relationship to religion, but I am compelled to rethink my own view of the relationship between religion and politics, and to ponder anew the fundamental questions Wallis poses. What does the separation of church and state really mean? What are the core Christian values and do we (as a society, people from all cultural and religious backgrounds) share these values? How would these common values influence and affect politics and society in the future? Though God's Politics is written for Christians who feel that their faith has been "stolen" by the political right and ignored by the political left, it is thought provoking, and provides a clear vision and new options for all Americans - religious and secular, left and right alike. It is a book worth reading.

"The Best Democracy Money Can Buy" by Greg Palast

Reviewed by Ning Wu

Greg Palast's revised American Edition of The Best Democracy Money Can Buy provides painful and rare insights into how money from private corporations controls and influences elections and governmental policies in America, and in turn how corporate money, US government agencies and their associated organizations like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund influence and control other countries politically and economically. If one is still wondering why many of our highest "elected" officials (both Republicans and Democrats) seem so ridiculously short sighted in their decision making, and show no concern for America's future - or worse, seem perfectly willing to destroy it - this collection of investigative articles provides some answers. Reading Palast is like examining many pieces of a complex puzzle and putting them into the right places. And at the end one will find that, through Palast's in-depth investigations, a clear and extremely ugly picture of the total alliance of governmental power with corporate interests and money emerges - an alliance that is especially strong in the current Bush administration.

"Moyers on America" by Bill Moyers

Reviewed by Ning Wu

In his book Moyers on America, a collection of his essays and speeches from 1971 to 2003, Bill Moyers reflects on his personal life and his journalistic experiences in searching for the soul of democracy in America. With fewer than 200 pages, this book is filled with insightful, and philosophical yet entertaining personal stories, observations and thoughts from one of the most interesting journalists of our time. Readers from different points in the political spectrum might disagree with Moyers's observations and views on media, patriotism, and the state of democracy in America today. Nevertheless, they will enjoy his writing, which reads as if he were in your living room having a lively and delightful conversation with you - though one about some of the most serious topics in American political life.

"Sex and the Single Beer Can" by Walt Brasch

Reviewed by The Dubya Report staff.

In April 2002 the Washington Monthly revealed that, whereas other administrations had used polls to determine the popularity of a range of policy options, the Bush administration used polls to determine the best rhetoric with which to market policies that might not be popular. John DiIulio confirmed the Bushies' public-relations approach to government when he confessed to reporter Ron Suskind that "staff, senior and junior ... consistently talked and acted as if the height of political sophistication consisted in reducing every issue to its simplest, black-and-white terms for public consumption, then steering legislative initiatives or policy proposals as far right as possible." (See The Dubya Report's
"Spinning Dispensationalism" and
"DiIulio's Tale".)

"Down & Dirty: The Plot to Steal the Presidency" by Jake Tapper

Reviewed by The Dubya Report staff.

This is a depressing book. It manages to indict Al Gore, George Bush, both major political parties, lawyers, judges, political professionals, the media - and the reader. And while it does present a detailed picture of the circus - maybe professional wrestling would be a closer analogy - that took place in Florida and spread to Washington in the aftermath of the 2000 election, its efforts to remain neutral lead to a pseudophilosophical cop out of a conclusion: "we're all to blame...."

"The Betrayal of America" by Vincent Bugliosi

Reviewed by The Dubya Report staff.

Five Justices of the Supreme Court guilty of treason? This is one of the central assertions of Vincent Bugliosi's provocative commentary on the U.S. Supreme Court's unprecedented intrusion into politics that handed George Bush the presidency. The book is an expansion of an article first written for The Nation magazine. While he admits "No technical crime was committed by the five conservative Justices," he continues that that is "only because no Congress ever dreamed of enacting a statute making it a crime to steal a presidential election." He goes on to argue that while not guilty of treason in the strict sense defined in the Constitution -- the only crime defined there, by the way -- there is little difference between giving aid and comfort to an enemy in time of war, and doing grave and unjustifiable damage to the nation "which the Justices surely did by stealing the office of the presidency for the candidate of their choice."

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