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The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power Hardcover – May 20, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
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“Of all the important studies of the American right, THE FAMILY is undoubtedly the most eloquent. It is also quite possibly the most terrifying.” (Thomas Frank, New York Times bestselling author of What's the Matter with Kansas?)
“An astounding entrée to a fascinating Christian network unknown to most Americans. . . . A must-read for any American who wants to know who is actually pulling the strings at the highest levels of power.” (Heidi Ewing, co-director Jesus Camp)
“This is a gripping, utterly original narrative about an influential evangelical elite that few Americans even know exists. . . . The Christian Right will never look the same again.” (Michael Kazin, author of A Godly Hero: the Life of William Jennings Bryan and The Populist Persuasion: An American History)
“[Sharlet] has managed to infiltrate the most influential and secretive fundamentalist network in America, and ground his reporting in the most astute and original explanation of fundamentalism I’ve ever read. . . . Indispensable.” (Hanna Rosin, former religion reporter for the Washington Post and author of God's Harvard: A Christian College on a Mission to Save the Nation)
“I was once an insider’s insider within fundamentalism. Unequivocally: Sharlet knows what he’s talking about. . . . Those who want to be un-deceived (and wildly entertained) must read this disturbing tour de force.” (Frank Schaeffer, author of Crazy For God: How I Grew Up As One Of The Elect, Helped Found The Religious Right, And Lived To Take All (Or Almost All) Of It Back)
“Un-American theocrats can only fool patriotic American democrats when there aren’t critics like Jeff Sharlet around—careful scholars and soulful writers who understand both the majesty of faith and the evil of its abuses. A remarkable accomplishment in the annals of writing about religion.” (Rick Perlstein, author of Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America)
“Jeff Sharlet provides a fascinating account of how part of American Christianity has gone off on a dangerous tangent. It should worry everyone—maybe especially those of us who understand the Gospels to be a call to help the powerless, not prop up the powerful.” (Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature and The Bill McKibben Reader)
“Jeff Sharlet is one of the very best writers covering the politics of religion. Brilliantly reported and filled with wonderful anecdotes, THE FAMILY tells the story of an influential group that you haven’t previously heard of, and need to know about.” (Ken Silverstein, Washington editor of Harper's and author of The Radioactive Boy Scout)
“A brilliant marriage of investigative journalism and history, an unsettling story of how this small but powerful group shaped the faith of the nation in the 20th century and drives the politics of empire in the 21st. Anyone interested in circles of power will love this book.” (Debby Applegate, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher)
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Top Customer Reviews
Jeff Sharlet, a scholar-writer on the nexus of religion & politics, pursues three goals in this remarkable book: (1) To trace elite fundamentalism's lineage from Jonathan Edwards in the 18th c. through the 19th c. religious leader Charles Finney to the present; (2) To demonstrate the Family's behind the scenes role in deployment of American power; and (3) To challenge the purely secular American historical narrative by arguing the role of religion behind the facade of formal power.
Sharlet accomplishes the first objective with verve, the Finney chapter alone is worth the price of the book. Based on his research in the Family's archives, the second goal is achieved, especially on the group's involvement in blunting US de-Nazification policy in postwar Germany, facilitating Indonesia's Suharto's crushing of East Timor, and encouraging the Somalian dictator and other similar types. The author's third challenge is the most ambitious, but I believe he meets it.
In fact, if the critical sociologist C. Wright Mills who wrote the influential 'The Power Elite' (1956) were alive today, I expect he'd be among the first to welcome 'The Family' revelations on the secretive role of Coe's elite "followers of Christ in government, business, and the military" in the projection of American power.
As a journalist, I know and have worked with Jeff Sharlet, but then everyone who writes about religion does or should. His work is particularly popular among writers who cover religion because he tells a story that many wish they were allowed to tell. The history recounted in The Family is one most media outlets deem too complex for the average reader. (What in the world does union busting have to do with religion? A lot, in fact.) Sharlet does not regard complexity as something to be avoided, however, and his true talent is in finding just the right key for unlocking it.Read more ›
The Family, as it is most commonly known, is like some immense, deep-sea leviathan that is only rarely glimpsed on the surface. Yet it is seen, like the Punxsutawney groundhog, at least once a year. This event is called the National Prayer Breakfast where the Family makes an effort to appear ecumenical and harmless. It is rather as if once a year Hannibal Lechter made a public appearance disguised as Mr. Rogers.
What is known as the Family began with a clergyman named Abraham Vereide in Depression-era Seattle. Vereide, or Abram, as he is referred to by the Family, looked upon workers who went on strike to secure enough pay to feed their families as agents of Satan. He was convinced that the Kingdom of God would be secured if the best among us, the rich that is, guided by Jesus Christ, made decisions for the rest of us unfettered by such messy things as democracy and the rule of law. If the poor could be made to see that God intended them to be poor and humbly accept their lot all would be well.
Abram, as one might have guessed, regarded the New Deal as an abomination in the eyes of the Lord.
Abram was a very effective salesmen for this idea among wealthy businessmen in Seattle. The Family grew through members recruiting new members who were either wealthy or in positions of authority.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Everyone should be required to read this book. You may not sleep at night but you will know what DC and the evangelicals are up to. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Gloria C. Vanbibber
Excellent first-hand, hands-on research into one of the most powerful and influential organizations in U.S. politics. Read morePublished 6 months ago by John J. Blossom
It's scary that so many of our elected representatives pledge higher allegiance to this group than their constituence. This book blows the secretive cult wide open.Published 9 months ago by Caleb
"Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness... Read morePublished 14 months ago by Another pigeon
Important book in helping to understand this invasive, pervasive, powerful group that operates under the radar. The Family is America's dirty little secret. Read morePublished 15 months ago by L.A.Noir
The number of influential members of the "Family" or the "Fellowship" or the "C Street Family" will blow your mind. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Amazon Customer