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Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism Paperback – Bargain Price, December 3, 2007

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Editorial Reviews


"Lucidly written, carefully distilled and persuasively cogent." Wall Street Journal"

From the Publisher

"There will of course be many readers (and many more nonreaders) of Mr. Brooks's book who will dismiss it on its face, and there will be fierce efforts mounted to discredit his analysis and data. Let them come. Who Really Cares should serve to change the public discussion dramatically. With any luck, it will be for our decade what Charles Murray's "Losing Ground" was for the 1980s (challenging the disincentive logic of welfare) or what Michael Harrington's "The Other America" was for the 1960s (highlighting the persistence of poverty amid affluence) ─ the text at the center of a constructive national debate." ─Wall Street Journal

"The next time you find yourself in a conversation about how liberals are caring and compassionate while conservatives are selfish and hard-hearted, you might want to refer your interlocutors to Who Really Cares."--First Things (December 06)

"Provocative... It's not just that charity helps those on the receiving end, says Brooks, an economist at Syracuse University in New York. It also strengthens the cohesion of society at large. Moreover, it appears to make the givers themselves more successful, possibly because the activity transforms them somewhat into better or happier people. Whatever the reasons, he finds that higher income tends to push up charity - and that greater charity tends to push up income."--Christian Science Monitor (11/27/06)

"[B]reaks new ground... In WHO REALLY CARES, Arthur C. Brooks finds that religious conservatives are far more charitable than secular liberals, and that those who support the idea that government should redistribute income are among the least likely to dig into their own wallets to help others."--Chronicle of Philanthropy (11/23/06) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (December 3, 2007)
  • ISBN-10: 0465008232
  • ASIN: B001G8WGF2
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 6.4 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (86 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,629,564 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

104 of 114 people found the following review helpful By D. G. Florida on December 15, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book uses data from many sources to prove that the one overwhelming predictor of generosity is religion. Political affiliation is almost irrelevent - the statistics for religious liberals and religious conservaties are identical. Religious people are statistically more likely to give than secularists (91% to 66%), and give more of their money (3.5 times more than secularists), are more likely to volunteer their time (67% to 44%), and volunteer more of their time (almost twice as much). The fact that the conservative population is more charitable than the liberal population is due to the fact that religious people tend to be politically conservative.

Brooks defines religious people as those who attend a place of worship at least once a week (roughly 30% of the population), and secularists as those who do not believe in a diety or attend a place of worship one time a year or less (20% of the population). That clearly leaves a large "middle class" where I suspect the statistics are hazy.

Contrary to comments in a previous review (by Richard Bennet), Brooks does address the issue of who the aid is given to. The statistics hold independent of the recipient of the donation or how the donation is solicited. Compared to secularists, religious people are more likely to donate to secular organizations or when the recipient is not local or is unknown. Religious people are more likely to make a donation when asked (by any organization, religious or not) than secularists.

Brooks also addresses the issue (in an entire chapter) of comparing US generosity with the generosity of other countries. Foreign aid as a percentage of GDP by the US federal government may be smaller than some nations, but private donations more than make up for the difference.
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74 of 88 people found the following review helpful By R. Stone on January 15, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book because I teach a course in which we read Tocqueville's Democracy in America and I was looking for current information to supplement our discussion of Tocqueville. The book is on the whole a wonderful book but it has one flaw that leads me to give it 4, not 5, stars. The flaw is conveyed in the book's subtitle: "The Surprising Truth about Compassionate Conservatism." Now, as Brooks demonstrates, it is indeed the case that conservatives are more charitable and more likely to volunteer than liberals. Nonetheless, as Brooks also points out, this is the case because conservatives are more likely to be religious than liberals and the religious are more charitable and more likely to volunteer than the non-religious. By far the most important variable accounting for charity and voluntarism is religious participation, as Tocqueville asserted over a century and a half ago. It could be that Brooks (or his publisher) wants to obscure the relative importance of political ideology and religion in order to target an audience that will purchase the book, and one can hardly fault him for that. After all, his CSPAN discussion of the book was held at the Heritage Foundation. Still, as he states on pages 47 and 50, religious conservatives and religious liberals give to charity at the same rate--91%-- although religious conservatives give 10% more than religious liberals. Religious liberals are slightly more likely to volunteer, however, and although among all liberal and conservative households, liberal households earn 6% more than conservative households (p.22), I suspect very strongly that religious conservative households earn at least 10% more than religious liberal households.Read more ›
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98 of 119 people found the following review helpful By Levi Spires on November 25, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Brooks research shows that 1) Americans are charitable, 2) Conservitives/religious individuals care, 3) government negatively impacts charity, and 4) charity will make your life better. The appendix and notes section of the book is large and thorough. Furthermore, Brooks takes the time to explain complex analysis of charity and simplify it for everyone.

The main point that stood out to me was religious people are the real givers; it doesn't matter what their voting preference is. If you have faith in the Almighty you're more likely to love ("charity" according to 1 Corinthians ch 13) your neighbor.

The one negative is that the book has a political slant. No, it doesn't say we need to vote conservative and Brooks goes as far as even challenging liberals to change their philanthropic ways. But, it seems as if everything in our society revolves around politics.

Brooks is a clever writer that uses common language. The chapters are well thought out and the book is short enough to digest in one reading. I recommend this book to all non-profit organizations, economics students, and anyone looking to affirm their faith in charity.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By DWD's Reviews VINE VOICE on December 22, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I'm a high school teacher that founded and sponsored the local Key Club (secular volunteer organization) at my high school for 7 years. My wife has been a professional volunteer coordinator for more than 15 years, in both religious and secular settings. There is nothing in these statistics that contradict our personal experiences.

So, what does Brooks say? "The conventional wisdom runs like this: Liberals are charitable because they advocate government redistribution of money in the name of social justice; conservatives are uncharitable because they oppose these policies. But note the sleight of hand: Government spending, according to the logic, is a form of charity. Let us be clear: Government spending is not charity. It is not voluntary sacrifice by individuals." (p. 20)

Brooks marshals a horde of facts to prove the point that the more politically liberal the individual, the community, the state, the country or the continent, the less likely that the individual, community, state, country or continent will be to donate to private charity in any form. Meaning, if a state voted for Bush in 2004, it generally gave more than a state that went for Kerry. The United States gives light years more to private charity than the nanny state European Union.


Generally speaking, it's because the general mindset is that there should be a government program to take care of that. This attitude affects volunteerism rates, monetary giving and even in-kind donations like giving blood or donating items to Goodwill. They are even more likely to give back extra change when the cashier makes a mistake.

Brooks breaks it down by income levels, religious affiliation, political party affiliation and even by race.
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