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Tempting Faith: An Inside Story of Political Seduction Paperback – October 2, 2007

4.2 out of 5 stars 55 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Read Tempting Faith, written by a real compassionate conservative, and weep for the loss of what could have been. Then beware of those who would manipulate genuine faith for partisan political purposes."

-- Jim Wallis, bestselling author of God's Politics

"The best kind of sermon, the most revealing and meaningful kind of testimony. At [Kuo's] call for action, you want to give [him] a loud 'amen.'"

-- The Hartford Courant

"Though Tempting Faith is a story about the Bush presidency, it is even more a story about Mr. Kuo. As much as it is a story about politics, it is also a story about faith."

-- The New York Times

"Tempting Faith is one of those rare Washington books that is worth reading -- clearly written, disarmingly honest, thoughtfully introspective, and unusually substantive.... A refreshingly honest account of how politics can seduce the best intentioned and the most naïve."

-- The American Conservative

About the Author

David Kuo served as Special Assistant to the President under George W. Bush from 2001 to 2003. He has worked for numerous conservative leaders, including John Ashcroft, William Bennett, Jack Kemp, Bob Dole, and Ralph Reed. He is the author of the Good Morning America Book Club selection Dot.Bomb: My Days and Nights at an Internet Goliath. He currently serves as the Washington editor of the Beliefnet Web site.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; Reprint edition (October 2, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743287134
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743287135
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,218,901 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
Kuo was a special assistant to the president from 2001 to 2003, deputy director of the White House office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. Kuo writes with great clarity and sincerity.

Many will read this book for its "Gotchas" about the Bush adminstration, but it's also an excellent portrait of a life: a life devoted to serving Christ through serving fellow citizens, and attempting to serve them both through directly and through politics (yeah, yeah, render unto Caesar etc). Kuo lives his life in the question of how to best serve, and this book combines his history and his ruminations on the mixture of politics and Christianity.

I should point out that Kuo is not the first person to leave Bush's Office of Faith-Based Initiatives in disgust. That honor belongs to John J. DiIulio Jr., who described his tenure in the Whitehouse in a Jan. 2003 Esquire article famous for the phrase "It's the reign of the Mayberry Machiavellis".

I have only skimmed this book so far, but I was struck by the passage where Kuo meets Hillary Clinton in a receiving line and takes the opportunity to apologize to her (earlier in the book, in order to grease the skids of fellowship, Kuo agrees with a rural sheriff that Hillary is "the AntiChrist"). he apologizes to her for his attacks: not for attacking her policies, but for "personal attacks." Hillary is taken aback, but manages to stutter out an "Okay, Okay, thank you," and later mentions Kuo's apology in a speech. Kuo is afraid his career in conservative politics is ruined, until he learns that Hillary didn't mention him by name.

Kuo started in politics working for William Bennett, and then moved to the senatorial offices of John Ashcroft.
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Format: Hardcover
This is one seriously interesting commentary that clearly demonstrates that politics and religion do not mix. More importantly, author Kuo alleges that the former White House Director of Political Affairs, Mr. Ken Mehlman, knowingly used his office and government funds to mount a religious voter movement in 20 political races on behalf of the Bush Administration. In essence, by using the White House's Office of Faith Based Initiatives, which President Bush used to assist the poor, as a central point to court and manipulate the religious-right's political machine, Kuo is openly stating that the Bush Administration misused its power and overstepped its authority while betraying one of their grass-root based supporters. Equally important is the shared commentary about how certain administration members viewed the courted far right, going on to label them as the `nuts'. Overall this is a worthwhile read that must be viewed with a certain sense of reader balance and understanding that writers, regardless of the short and narrow, have subjective views that guide objective reporting.
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Format: Hardcover
By David M. Kinchen

Huntington News Network Book Critic

Hinton, WV - In his eye-opening account of a pilgrim's progress - or rather a lack of it - inside the Beltway, David Kuo's "Tempting Faith" (Free Press, $25, 304 pages) confirms to me something that I believe is obvious: Politics and religion shouldn't be mixed.

In fact, at the end of the book, evangelical Christian Kuo seems to come to that conclusion, suggesting a two-year "fast" from engaging in politics for his fellow believers, who should instead support charities that help the poor and the sick. Fasting, he points out, is an integral part of Christianity, it's good for the soul and body and Jesus was a strong believer in fasting.

The book's subtitle - "An Inside Story of Political Seduction" - tells a lot about Kuo's experiences both before and after working for the George W. Bush administration. From 2001 to 2003, he was second in command - deputy director -- at the President's Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, working closely with the director of the organization, John DiIulio, and with Dilulio's successor.

As a matter of fact, Dilulio, quoted in a Dec. 4, 2002 Esquire magazine story by Ron Suskind gave more than a hint that the Bush White House was using believing Christians as part of a Karl Rove-designed scheme to secure the voting base of that group. In the article, according to Kuo (Page 219) Dilulio "critiqued the Bush White House for its lack of a serious policy apparatus. Policy wasn't made by philosophy, John said, but by politics. `There is no precedent in any modern White House for what is going on in this one: a complete lack of a policy apparatus...'" Kuo said the article went on at "length detailing Karl Rove's perceived power.
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Format: Hardcover
Kuo writes an interesting critique of the Bush administration, but, in the end, he remains just one more partisan player. As a non-Christian Democrat, I purchased the book hoping to see some ethical realism at work in Kuo's analysis of the Bush administration. To some degree, my hopes were realized. Nevertheless, I kept feeling that Kuo's soul still operates on a strictly partisan "us/them" level, and his afterward proves the point. In talking about a Christian "fast" from politics, he writes: "If we take a two-year (and just a two-year) break from politics, will America go to pot? Of course it won't. The brilliance of our Founders is that they created a system where change is very slow and very gradual. Bill Clinton's problems couldn't sink us, nearly four decades of Democratic congressional control didn't sink us, and two years of Christians retreating from politics won't sink us."

Of course, one might argue that his entire book is an indictment of the Bush administration, but I think it might better be termed a call for Christian extremists to look elsewhere for their revolution.

Frankly, I find Jim Wallis' book, God's Politics, a more fulfilling read.
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