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The Battle: How the Fight between Free Enterprise and Big Government Will Shape America's Future Hardcover – May 25, 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; Complete Numbers Starting with 1, 1st Ed edition (May 25, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465019382
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465019380
  • Product Dimensions: 0.7 x 5.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #580,815 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

According to Gingrich, this slim volume will be judged in the future as "one of the pivotal books around which American history turned." Citing a 2009 poll, Brooks (Gross National Happiness), president of the American Enterprise Institute, examines the 30% of Americans who don't support Free Enterprise, calling them an "intellectual upper class" composed of "statist politicians, socialist college professors, left-leaning journalists, America-bashing entertainers..." His claim that this "30 percent coalition" has taken over the country is based on answers to two questions: should government promote policies to narrow the gap between rich and poor? Or should it foster job growth and allow "people to keep more of what they earn?" Nearly two to one opt for the latter. While the economy and Obama's appeal to minorities and young people swept Democrats to victory in 2008, "Statism had effectively taken hold in Washington" long before, in Brooks's view. Not above red-baiting (linking calls for "economic justice" to the "leftist philosophy" of Karl Marx, for instance), Brooks's main target is the "unprincipled Republican party" which has "strayed too far from its free-enterprise values," and needs new leadership.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

From the foreword by Newt Gingrich

Arthur C. Brooks has written a book which will take its place with Charles Murray’s Losing Ground as one of the pivotal books around which American history turned.

From his very first sentences Brooks is outlining a stark and compelling analysis of the crisis of contemporary America.

Brooks begins: “America faces a new culture war. I know this language is jarring, and many people are unwilling to accept it. But it’s true.”

The Battle then outlines three big facts:

First, there is a fundamental disagreement about America’s future between a socialist, redistributionist minority (the 30% coalition) and a massive free enterprise, work ethic, opportunity oriented majority (the 70% majority). For years I have spoken and written that “we are the majority”. It is a concept I learned from Ronald Reagan in the 1970s. Now Brooks provides the ammunition to factually explain why the 70% should govern America as a reflection of our legitimate majority status.

Second, there is an elite system of power which enables the 30% coalition to dominate the 70% majority. There are the seeds of an extraordinary history book buried in a few paragraphs of The Battle. How did the coalition of word users come to so thoroughly dominate the coalition of workers and doers? How did the elites on academic campuses come to define legitimacy for the news media, the Hollywood system, the Courts, and the bureaucracy? Brooks makes clear that the dominance of the hard left in these worlds is a fact. He sets the stage for someone (maybe another AEI scholar) to develop the historic explanation of how this usurpation of the people by the elite came to be.

Third, this is a conflict over values in which those who represent redistributionist, left wing materialism have stolen the language of morality while those who favor freedom, individual opportunity, the right to pursue happiness and personal liberty have been maneuvered into a series of banal and ultimately unattractive positions in the public debate. Brooks’ outline of a morally dominant culture of freedom shaming the materialistic, statist, coercive culture of redistribution is as important for our generation as Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom was for the Reagan-Thatcher generation.

What makes The Battle so important is its unique combination of intellectual clarity and the best succinct analysis of the values of the American people I have ever read.

Brooks argues that conservatism in its market oriented, individual liberty, equality of opportunity, right to pursue happiness, work ethic form is both popular and historically the most positive way for people to live.

After you have read this book and committed its arguments and its salient facts to memory, you will be able to debate any elitist redistributionist leftist and win the day in both moral rhetoric and factual analysis.

Every American about their country’s future and worried by the radicalism of the Obama-Pelosi-Reid machine should read The Battle. It is the ammunition with which to save our country and change our history for the better.


Richard B. Cheney, former Vice President of the United States
“This is the playbook for the resurgence of the conservative movement.”

William J. Bennett
"Arthur Brooks is one of America's most astute, bold, and iconoclastic thinkers. The Battle provides yet more evidence of that fact. Loaded with fresh data and common sense, The Battle uncovers liberalism's true grand agenda—to change America's culture and the American way—and explains how these same Americans can fight back and ultimately win."

Marvin Olasky, editor-in-chief, World Magazine, and Provost, The King's College
“Economic issues are not just about money. They're about how we live. The Battle shows how Washington power-grabbers use financial fears to tell the rest of us how we must live. Crucially, The Battle teaches us how to fight back.”

Karl Rove
"Clear, sharp, well reasoned and tough, The Battle is a must-read for conservatives who want our movement to dominate the intellectual and policy debates of America’s coming vital decades."

Ronald Kessler, Newsmax
“Sometimes it takes someone who was on the other side to explain things clearly, as Brooks does in his eye-opening book…Crammed with telling statistics, Brooks’ book says that academia is a particularly important part of the ‘30 percent coalition.’”

More About the Author

Arthur C. Brooks is the president of the American Enterprise Institute. Until January 1, 2009, he was the Louis A. Bantle Professor of Business and Government Policy at Syracuse University. Throughout his career, Arthur has conducted research on the connections between culture, politics and economic life, and has published hundreds of articles and 10 books on subjects ranging from the economics of the arts to military operations research.

Born in 1964, Arthur grew up in Seattle in a family less interested in free enterprise than in the arts. At age 19, he dropped out of college to pursue a career as a professional French hornist. Arthur performed with the Annapolis Brass Quintet, toured with famed jazz guitarist Charlie Byrd, and spent several years with the City Orchestra of Barcelona. In Barcelona in 1991, he married Ester Munt-Brooks.

In 1992, Arthur and Ester moved to the U.S., where Ester taught languages and Arthur returned to college at night while teaching music during the day. He studied economics, math and languages, eventually earning bachelor's and master's degrees in economics and a Ph.D. in public policy. After finishing his doctorate, Arthur spent 10 years as a university professor, teaching economics, nonprofit management, and social entrepreneurship.

At the end of 2008, he left academia to join AEI as the institution's eleventh president. He speaks widely on behalf of AEI and the free enterprise movement all around the United States and world, and continues to write books and articles.

Arthur and Ester currently reside in Bethesda, Maryland, with their three children Joaquin, Carlos, and Marina.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

97 of 109 people found the following review helpful By dt on May 21, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I agree with the previous reviewer, "...the right message at the right time." I don't label myself conservative or liberal (I lean libertarian) and generally do not purchase/read books that promote a "call to arms" to defend an ideology. However, I liked the simplicity of his message: "America faces a new culture war...free enterprise v.s. social democracy" and the author did a decent job defending his message.

As a non-partisan voter, it isn't all that hard to understand the behavior of our government has (and still is) been in direct conflict with what our nation has historically believed in--liberty. Washington has turned into a soap opera with partisan hacks on both sides screaming at each other. In the end, we end up with a government that punishes compromise and jams ideological legislation(?) (the majority of Americans don't want BTW) down their throats. In other words, the needs of the minority (30% of our nation) outweigh the needs of the majority (the "other" 70%). This book does a good job of identifying and defending this point.

In a small way, I feel lucky I got a review in before the ideological hacks jumped in to trash (or over-praise) this book. Liberal democrats will trash the book; Conservative republicans will over-praise it and insist everybody read it; but I'm willing to lay a wager most of these people will not have read the book. READ THE BOOK!!! Even if you don't agree with everything the author has to say, it's an interesting read.
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59 of 68 people found the following review helpful By VoraciousReader on May 19, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This is a great book with the right message at the right time. It offers a very simple but powerful argument: we are engaged in a war between two competing visions of America's future. In one, we will continue to be a free enterprise nation. In the other, we will move toward government control, income redistribution, and statism. Which do you prefer?

Arthur Brooks shows that America will be forever changed if we don't stand up and take action now. Free enterprise is one of the values that has made this country great, and a small but vocal minority is undermining this core tenant. Brooks argues: "America needs leaders as committed as we are to expanding liberty, increasing individual opportunity, and defending free enterprise. In short, we need leaders committed to the source of our flourishing and the bedrock of our culture."

The book is very well written, sharp, and engaging from start to finish--likely one of 2010's best. It is a must read for anyone concerned about the direction our country is headed.
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55 of 69 people found the following review helpful By James R. Holland VINE VOICE on May 23, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This short book or collection of four essays with an introduction by Newt Gingrich is long on facts gleaned from various National Polls and Surveys. The four chapters are entitled "The 70-30 Nation:" "A Bill of Goods: The 30 Percent Coalition's Story of the Financial Crisis:" "Free Enterprise and the Pursuit of Happiness:" and the "Moral Case for Free Enterprise." The main text comprised 128 pages of the total 174 pages that include an excellent notes section and index.
The United States is in the midst of a cultural war. "It is a struggle between two competing visions of American's Future. In one, America will continue to be a unique and exceptional nation organized around the principles of free enterprise. In the other, America will move toward European-style statism grounded in expanding bureaucracies, increasing income redistribution, and government-controlled corporations. These competing visions are not reconcilable: We must choose."
Backed up by a large number of national polls, the author divides the two warring factions into groups of people with 70% favoring the side of "Free-Enterprise" and 30% favoring socialism, redistribution and a big brother government. He provides plenty of documentation to demonstrate this 70-30 division of sides. For example while most voters mistrust big government, big business, large corporations and Wall Street banks, "The 2010 Gallup Survey found that 95% of Americans have a positive image of small business. One doubts whether `motherhood' would even score so well."
He then breaks down the two armies of thought. The people in the 30% coalition are "led by people who are smart, powerful and strategic. These are many of the people who make opinions, entertain us, inform us, and teach our kids in college...
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29 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Paul Dueweke on June 17, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Brooks makes an excellent case that there really is a culture war and what the stakes are in that war. But then anyone who has observed our republic evolve away from the Constitution and toward big-money statism already understands that. One of the real insights Brooks brings to the table is the 30/70 split between the liberal elite that sees free enterprise as tyrannical and traditional Americans who see free enterprise as the only sensible way to assign value to work performed. One does wonder, however, how such a liberal elite could have grown to 30% of society under a system of free enterprise. My theory of how that happened later.

Despite the great value I credit to this book, there are some serious problems. The problems revolve around what the perceived goals of the book are. Brooks' goal is probably to bring about social change. The publisher's goal is probably to sell books. These goals are in conflict. The publisher probably chose the foreword by Newt Gingrich and the back cover featuring Richard Cheney. Those choices make sense if you want to sell the book to as many die-hard Republicans as you can. I am neither liberal nor a Democrat, but I had to grit my teeth to buy a book endorsed by Cheney; and I doubt that many of my liberal friends could get past a Gingrich foreword. So if Brooks wants liberals in the 30% coalition to read his book, he will be disappointed. Whether the liberals are in the academic elite or in the black inner city, they are not very receptive to conservative ideals--in fact neither is Cheney--and Gingrich is questionable, though both wear conservative halos. The gravity of the Cheney/Gingrich endorsement should not be underestimated. This will turn off liberals--and many moderates. And now for the clincher--a Karl Rove ad on the front cover.
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