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The race is on

Books | Books analyze the crises within both Islam and the continent it is trying to subdue

Issue: "Crossing the Rubiocon," Aug. 14, 2010

In preparation for the fall political season, Obama-blasting books are pouring forth: Ken Blackwell and Ken Klukowski's solid The Blueprint (Lyons, 2010), Aaron Klein's overwrought The Manchurian President (WND, 2010), and Robert Knight's succinct and lucid Radical Rulers: The White House Elites Who Are Pushing America Toward Socialism (Coral Ridge, 2010).

Oddly, the administration in Washington is cranking up the pro-Muslim rhetoric as Islam's cultural, political, and economic distress deepens. Iraqi leader Ali Allawi examines the deep malaise in his scholarly The Crisis of Islamic Civilization (Yale Univ. Press, 2009). Another academic book, The Hidden Origins of Islam (Prometheus; edited by Karl-Heinz Ohlig and Gerd R. Puin), presents evidence of deception in Islam's beginnings: Does linguistic analysis disprove its revelation saga? Did Islam begin in a Christian heresy that later morphed into the equivalent of a Muhammad of Arabia movie?

So the race is on: Will Islamic dictatorships crumble first, or will feckless Europe give up? Theodore Dalrymple explains the defeatist impulse in The New Vichy Syndrome: Why European Intellectuals Surrender to Barbarism (Encounter, 2010). This is the time for Christians to ratchet up the pressure on a false religion, so we need to know our adversaries: Andrew McCarthy's The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America (Encounter, 2010) is a useful introduction. If we are unprepared, we may meet disaster: Braddock's March by Thomas Crocker (Westholme, 2010) shows with great specific detail how the arrogance of a British general in 1755 led to a massacre.

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Will media leaders help us avoid a debacle? Sadly, they are normally on the left, following the trail blazed by Joseph Pulitzer, who died 99 years ago; James McGrath Morris' new 558-page biography, Pulitzer: A Life in Politics, Print, and Power (HarperCollins, 2010), is about 500 pages too long, but it has all the details a press historian might want. Will scientists lead the way? Many are herd creatures, as Roy Spencer's The Great Global Warming Blunder (Encounter, 2010) shows.

Meanwhile, angry atheists march on, as Peter Hitchens shows in The Rage Against God (Zondervan, 2010), a thoughtful memoir plus a critique of the views of the author's brother, Christopher. Incidentally, Christopher Hitchens now has cancer of the esophagus; please pray for him. Also pray for the revivals that are creating a Christian boom in Asia, Africa, and South America: Mark Shaw in Global Awakening (IVP Academic, 2010) surveys the 20th-century revivals on these continents.
Email Marvin Olasky

Socialist tests

Rod Gragg's Forged in Faith (Howard Books, 2010) is a good, brief popular history of what began in 1607 and became the United States in 1776. Gragg notes that the Jamestown and Plymouth settlers both tried socialism-people could take from a common store regardless of their work effort-and almost starved to death.

He quotes Pilgrim William Bradford's note that some colonists believed the taking away of property, and bringing community into a common wealth, would make them happy and flourishing"-but the experiment instead bred "confusion & discontent, and retarded much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort."

Bradford recorded the colonists' switch to private property and the result: "This had very good success for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the Government or any other could use." Barack Obama and associates should take that message to heart.

Some other worthwhile books on the Pilgrims and Puritans include: Nathaniel Philbrick, Mayflower; Leland Ryken, Worldly Saints; Perry Miller, ed., The American Puritans: Their Prose and Poetry; J.I. Packer, A Quest for Godliness; and Gerald R. McDermott, Jonathan Edwards Confronts the Gods.

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.


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