A cleareyed, compelling study of the road to Jan. 6 and the possible future of the politics-versus-religion battle in the...



A former White Christian nationalist destroys “the myth of the White Christian nation,” which “provided the basis for our polarized public square…and the worst attack on the Capitol in two centuries.”

As a teenager in the mid-1990s, Onishi, a religion scholar and host of the Straight White American Jesus podcast, became deeply involved in a White evangelical church in Orange County, California. As a convert and then minister, he was entrenched in what he calls the foundational traits of White Christian nationalism, which he recognized in the rhetoric of the Jan. 6, 2021, rioters: “the myth of the Christian nation, nostalgia for past glory, and an apocalyptic view of the nation’s future.” In a pertinent, accessible combination of historical survey and memoir, Onishi looks at specific court cases that helped galvanize the White nationalist movement in the 1960s in reaction to the rise of the civil rights and feminist movements, especially Engel v. Vitale (1962), which “concerned the constitutionality of school prayer in public school settings where students were required to participate”; and Abingdon v. Schemp (1963), which “considered the matter of required Bible reading in schools.” Both were denounced by evangelicals as the moment “God was taken out of public schools.” Along with other forces such as desegregation and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, these cases helped propel Barry Goldwater’s hard-right candidacy. Onishi shows how the movement gained political might thanks to Paul Weyrich, “one of Goldwater’s foot soldiers,” and how the religious right combined with the GOP to frame the argument as an attack on family values and religious freedom. The election of Ronald Reagan and defeat of Jimmy Carter, “the wrong kind of Christian,” helped perpetuate the warlike, conspiratorial language of the movement, to which Donald Trump neatly subscribed a few decades later. Onishi’s systematic, well-argued narrative reveals the “nostalgia politics” behind the shrinking privilege of White nationalists.

A cleareyed, compelling study of the road to Jan. 6 and the possible future of the politics-versus-religion battle in the U.S.

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-5064-8216-3

Page Count: 237

Publisher: Broadleaf Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2022

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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 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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This a book of earlier, philosophical essays concerned with the essential "absurdity" of life and the concept that- to overcome the strong tendency to suicide in every thoughtful man-one must accept life on its own terms with its values of revolt, liberty and passion. A dreary thesis- derived from and distorting the beliefs of the founders of existentialism, Jaspers, Heldegger and Kierkegaard, etc., the point of view seems peculiarly outmoded. It is based on the experience of war and the resistance, liberally laced with Andre Gide's excessive intellectualism. The younger existentialists such as Sartre and Camus, with their gift for the terse novel or intense drama, seem to have omitted from their philosophy all the deep religiosity which permeates the work of the great existentialist thinkers. This contributes to a basic lack of vitality in themselves, in these essays, and ten years after the war Camus seems unaware that the life force has healed old wounds... Largely for avant garde aesthetes and his special coterie.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1955

ISBN: 0679733736

Page Count: 228

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1955

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