From Publishers Weekly
Secretary of State under President Clinton and a devout Catholic (with recently discovered Jewish roots), Albright (Madam Secretary
) is especially qualified to tackle the thorny subject of the role of faith in international relations. In a remarkably accessible, even breezy style, she looks at these issues in light of recent history both abroad and at home, from the religious fundamentalism that led to the ouster of the shah of Iran to the invasion of Iraq and American hope that a political culture can emerge there that integrates democracy and Islam. But Albright also looks critically at President Bush, an evangelical Christian who invokes God in the name of fighting "evil." In this ambitious, thoughtful, and wide-ranging treatment, Albright deftly balances the pragmatic need to confront religious-based unrest and the idealistic need to temper one's own personal beliefs in the public realm. While fully acknowledging the threat al- Qaeda poses, Albright rejects the notion that a "clash of civilizations" is in progress and wisely calls for care and nuance in how America approaches international confrontations that are tinged with religion. (May 2)
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*Starred Review* Albright brings considerable experience as a former diplomat, history professor, and child of Czech immigrants to an absorbing look at the intersection of world politics and world religion. With a sweeping view of U.S. historical involvement in the fight against communism and for human rights, as well as some of our more morally dubious pursuits, Albright critiques U.S. foreign policy and our notions of manifest destiny. From personal experiences, Albright notes the importance of religion in shaping world events, including the influence of Pope John Paul II on Poland and the world. As an admitted hybrid between realist and idealist, Albright suggests that politics and the values of faith can--and should--be joined in the interest of peace. But unfettered reliance on religious beliefs to guide politics is a formula for continued conflict. While President Bush portrays the U.S. anti-terrorism campaign as one aimed against evil, Albright notes that Osama bin Laden also "portrays a clash between the good defender and the evil aggressor, but with roles reversed." Albright details the historic conflicts between Christianity and Islam, between Israelis and Muslims, and conflicts among Muslims, all based on interpretations of religious texts. She believes the Christian Right has contributed to the complexity of foreign diplomacy with encroachment into areas that had formerly been personal matters--from contraception to sexual orientation--that are now matters of international interest. A thoughtful and absorbing look at religion and world politics for readers of all religious and political persuasions. Vanessa BushCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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