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The Mighty and the Almighty: Reflections on America, God, and World Affairs Paperback – Bargain Price, March 27, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. 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)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
*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 Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
That being said, it's important to note that this book has its shortcomings. Those who are expecting a more academic analysis of the issue, buttressed by anecdotes (instead of replaced by them), are left wanting. Albright takes many things for granted that deserve more in-depth examination. For example, consistent with her Catholic upbringing, Albright all but assumes that there most definitely is a God, that most religions ultimately worship the same God, and that religions cause more good than harm. That may all well be true, but in examining conflicts that are all too often rooted in religion, a complete analysis would at least have to address - even if the proposition is ultimately dismissed - the *possibility* that religion is THE problem. Along these lines, it would have made for a much more thought-provoking read if the book had taken the kid gloves off and examined the religious aspects of the subject matter less deferentially (somewhat along the lines of what philosopher Daniel Dennett suggests in his book Breaking the Spell).
As another example of the book's lack of analysis, Albright essentially concludes in a few cursory sentences that it was right to establish the nation of Israel after World War II, essentially because of the harm the Jewish people had suffered. A more complete analysis might have more critically examined whether it was necessary to establish that nation in the Middle East, or why, if the Allied powers deemed it necessary to establish a Jewish state, they couldn't have (for example) bought large contiguous plots of land in the area rather than oust the people who already lived there.
Of course, everyone is entitled to their opinions, and if you aren't looking for anything more than Madeleine Albright's well-qualified opinion, you will not be disappointed with this book. If you're looking for more provocative critical analysis however, it's probably best to look somewhere else.
This Review Copyrighted 2009 by J. Smith
While I do not agree with all of the opinions in her book, I found the theory about religion being at the root of war very intriguing and accurate. I wish I had thought of some of the concepts in the book myself. She has a knack for bringing out our 'best thinking'.
Most recent customer reviews
Unfortunately, when your biggest complaint about a book like this is that she fails to count Baha'i...Read more