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C Street: The Fundamentalist Threat to American Democracy Hardcover – September 27, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

C Street includes everything a riveting tale about a controversial national movement should-scandal, affairs, conspiracies, death, and, of course, secrecy. Sharlet's story of American fundamentalism begins in a historical mansion on Washington DC's C Street, diverts to Argentina, takes root in Uganda, and ends at a street protest in Manhattan. The second in an unofficial series (after The Family) about a religious cabal of politicians from both major parties, Sharlet brings a wealth of research (including many quotes from conversations with "C-streeters" and others in "the Fellowship") to reveal the startling mindset of a movement few even know exists. Vivid descriptions of key players brings his tale to life; in fact, the reader is never allowed to forget that this is true, and Sharlet's repetition is unnecessary. But he deftly unravels the residence as not just a place, but an ideological greenhouse for the teachings of evangelists, Christians, proponents of the Far Right, and others who compose a fundamentalist movement that aims to put Jesus in the Oval Office and get the Bible equal footing with the Constitution.
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From Booklist

Even after the sexual affairs of several congressmen brought the Fellowship (and its D.C. residence on C Street) into the light, most Americans have still never heard of this elitist fundamentalist organization. Even those who have will have trouble getting their heads around a mostly faceless organization whose goal is to convert the world to a trickle-down Christianity, as Sharlet calls it, where God has chosen the leaders (them) and everyone else follows. With our leaders somehow prechosen, it makes it easier to forgive their transgressions (the Fellowship, for example, has no problem working with heads of state like Haiti’s Papa Doc Duvalier and those in present-day Uganda, who advocate the death penalty for homosexuals).That this heavily financed, multilayered organization has been operating for decades—and today is actively implanted within the U.S. military—makes this well-documented, probing investigation even more mind-bending. Mostly, those in the Fellowship don’t talk. Maybe now the discussion will start. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: When the affairs of Fellowship members Senator John Ensign R-Nev. and South Carolina governor Mark Sanford broke, Sharlet’s book The Family became a best-seller. His follow-up is sure to attract similar attention. --Ilene Cooper

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1 edition (September 27, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316091073
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316091077
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,009,723 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Jeff Sharlet is the New York Times and national bestselling author of THE FAMILY (Harper, 2008), C STREET (Little, Brown, 2010), and SWEET HEAVEN WHEN I DIE (W.W. Norton, 2011). With Peter Manseau he wrote KILLING THE BUDDHA (Free Press, 2004) and edited BELIEVER, BEWARE (Beacon, 2009). Of his most recent book, SWEET HEAVEN WHEN I DIE, The Washington Post writes, "This book belongs in the tradition of long-form, narrative nonfiction best exemplified by Joan Didion, John McPhee [and] Norman Mailer... Sharlet deserves a place alongside such masters." Excerpts from Sharlet's previous book, C STREET, were honored with the Molly Ivins Prize, the Thomas Jefferson Award, the Outspoken Award, and the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Asoociation's first and second prizes for feature writing. Barbara Ehrenreich called THE FAMILY "one of the most compelling and brilliantly researched exposes you'll ever read."

Sharlet is Mellon Assistant Professor of Creative Nonfiction at Dartmouth College and a contributing editor at Harper's Magazine and Rolling Stone. He has been a frequent commentator on MSNBC's "Rachel Maddow Show" and NPR's "Fresh Air" and has appeared on "The Daily Show" with Jon Stewart, "Real Time with Bill Maher," "Hardball," "Democracy Now," and other programs.

Sharlet is a cofounder of, winner of the Utne/Alternative Press Award, and, created at NYU's Center for Religion and Media with support from the Pew Charitable Trust. He has received grants and fellowships from The MacDowell Colony, the Blue Mountain Center, The Nation Institute, and other organizations. His writing on music has twice been featured in the annual BEST MUSIC WRITING volume.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

113 of 128 people found the following review helpful By Becky Garrison on September 25, 2010
Format: Hardcover
With The Family, Jeff Sharlet offered readers an inside peek into an organization that on the surface may appear to consist of "nice Christians" who host the annual National Prayer Breakfast (NPB) and DC based prayer groups. However, their version of Christian capitalism led by a muscular Jesus bears scant resemblance to the teachings of Christ as presented in the Gospels. In C Street Jeff continues his fearless reporting by expounding upon this group's global efforts, thus debunking the notion that progressives can find 'common ground' with an organization such as the Family that run roughshod over the first amendment? (One can hear the voice of Roger Williams trying to remind us of the importance of the separation of church and state.) Despite string of sex scandals and other deeds that have shut down countless other ministries, politicians and other global leaders still flock to the Family sponsored National Prayer Breakfast for their coveted photo op with the President. Perhaps this book may make them think twice about accepting their invite to the 2011 NPB.

On a side note, as Jeff has obtained unprecedented access to the Family's archival material that's stored at the Billy Graham Center (Wheaton College), I am suspect of any reporting of The Family/The Fellowship/C Street that doesn't reference Jeff's research. Good reporting requires that one go beyond simply taking the words of those who have a vested interest in the Family.
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95 of 111 people found the following review helpful By Frank Schaeffer on September 23, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Jeff Sharlet is on the side of true religion, freedom and democracy. In this follow up to "The Family" Sharlet follows the story of American religious extremism in high places to the next level. What is so great about this book is not just Sharlet's investigative reporting but his mastery of writing. This is actually a great book in every sense of the word, a pleasure to read. Unless more Americans become aware of the insane intentions of so many of our leaders who hide behind the cross to "reclaim" the world "for God" the USA will be headed for our own version of a theocracy. If I could think of a better way to say this I would, but all I can say is please read this book!
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Kelly Cooper VINE VOICE on January 29, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As someone who has been pretty diligent about reading Jeff Sharlet's work over the years, I was a little disappointed in this follow-up to "The Family." In it's defense, it is a follow-up and not the main course. Sharlet spends a considerable amount of time restating his previously published research, making this feel like a compilation of greatest hits instead of a new contribution. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, and he acknowledges that some chapters are indeed revisited versions of old magazine articles... but the downside of this is that the content loses its luster (at least for those who keep abreast of the subject matter) as well as its value (for those of us who paid for it). To its credit, the writing is excellent and the thoughtfulness with which Sharlet approaches his work is often inspired. The section on Uganda greatly expands the reader's understanding of that country's anti-homosexual politics beyond the confines of conventional reporting.

The greatest strength of this book, unlike perhaps that of "The Family," is in the cogency of it's assessment of evangelical power. Sharlet repeatedly makes the case that the Christian Right in America is primarily a political force, bending it's theology to fit the aspirational demands of it's self-appointed ruling class. Even though Sharlet himself shies away from theological argument, it cannot, alas, be excised from this ruthless story about the acquisition of power.
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47 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Elmer Fudd on September 29, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book needs to be read by every voting age person. It explains the vision and theocracy behind the "Christian" right, which has nothing to do with Christ but with power and making the rich richer while making the middle class and the poor poorer.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By R. Stuart on December 13, 2010
Format: Hardcover
In this sequel to his bestselling study 'The Family', the shadowy elite fundamentalist group embedded in Congress, author Jeff Sharlet has again made a notable contribution to the conversation on the veiled relationship of religion to political power in America. Although members of Congress who gather at their bunkhouse on Washington's C Street present themselves as a religious outfit, they are actually a stealth political caucus concealed in a peculiar conception of Christianity, much like a Klingon warship, its cloaking device on, prowling the heavens in search of prey. Sharlet has stripped away the patina of piety cloaking The Family's senators and congressmen, to offer the reader of 'C Street' an insightful meditation on power, especially The Family's deployment of its not inconsiderable influence in sensitive areas of US foreign policy.

In a particularly brilliant chapter on The Family's influence in Uganda, the template for its operations throughout East Africa, the author describes how Senator Inhofe (OK-R), the groups's point man for Uganda, goes forth under the banner of Jesus to project his brethren's conservative cultural agenda abroad. In Uganda and elsewhere, past and present, The Family has shown an affinity for working with dictators, regardless of their religious persuasion, so long as they take a knee to Jesus. With US foreign aid, especially military aid at stake, this usually presents no problems for foreign leaders. C Streeter's worship is a singular focus on Jesus, absent most of the theology which made Christ the spiritual head of Christendom. In effect, The Family has fashioned its Jesus-worship into a meta-religion which, they argue, frees them from the restraints of conventional Christian morality.
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