MixedWashington PostWarren sees the world through the narrow lens of economic interests, ignoring the deeply held values and beliefs that often determine people’s politics. This attitude is condescending, but more important, it limits Warren’s understanding of America — and why her party has failed so badly ... Unlike other Democrats, she understands the anger of the American people, she predicted Trump’s success, and she knows what the party should do next. Yet the story Warren tells about the election and America’s anxieties is curiously one-dimensional ... She gives no credence to people’s religious convictions and moral crises. She spends no time on battles over LGBT identity or racialized policing. And she has no patience for arguments in favor of smaller government. To Warren, real political action is never local and communal, but always federal.
PanThe AtlanticWeisman’s book never overcomes this foundational flaw: It is based on the wildly inaccurate claim that American Jews are not talking about, thinking about, and calling out anti-Semitism. Weisman, alarmed by swirling hatred and lack of Jewish communal cohesion, seems to have cast about for someone to blame and settled on Jews themselves; his facts are wobbly and his prescriptions are thin. Yet the urgency of his project—finding a unified Jewish identity in a time of fracture, assimilation, and recurring bigotry—marks a development that has been unimaginable to Jews for two or three generations: Once again, hate toward Jews is rising. Once again, Jews are distressingly divided. Once again, there is no easy solution to protect Jews’ moral, political, or physical future ... Throughout the book, Weisman seems to think he is the only Jew in America who sees the need to stand up to the forces of authoritarianism. He is worried about the tendrils of the far-right movements that have poisoned American discourse and terrorized victims on- and offline. Anti-Semitism is on the rise, he argues, and yet the Jewish community is asleep. The trouble with his argument is that it’s wrong ... Fundamentally, though, the book rests on an empty vision: that Jews can define themselves solely through progressive activism, and by opposing those who hate them ... Weisman was the wrong reporter for the right assignment.
PanThe New York Times Book ReviewGod: A Human History, is aimed at the analytically minded spiritual seeker, the type who hopes to answer deep questions on the divine with study data and tidbits about evolution. But instead of arming readers with interpretive tools and good questions, Aslan tells a highly selective, generalized tale with the goal of proving his own beliefs ... Aslan may well be the most talented religious translator of his generation. But in his primed-for-television sureness, he misses an opportunity to engage the many Americans who are searching for new ideas about God. Rather than cherishing the complexity of belief, he chooses spiritual arrogance ... Aslan shows little interest in religious traditions that don’t fit this pattern, such as Hinduism and Buddhism, which are mentioned only in passing. His history of God barely travels east of the Arabian Sea. Instead, Aslan bushwhacks his way through intellectual history in pursuit of his point ... aggressive atheism tempered and remodeled for the millennial age: doggedly universalistic, obligation-free and relentlessly focused on self-revelation.
MixedThe AtlanticHe’s trying to articulate a language of shared culture and values in a country that has been rocked by technological, cultural, and demographic change. It may be an imperfect attempt. But at least Sasse has identified the right project ... His proposals are about recovering this sense of meaning and establishing a shared language for talking about it, thickening the civic culture that serves as the foundation of political deliberation ... While Sasse may claim he’s talking about all Americans, he’s really speaking to the upper-middle class ... Blaming Millennials for American’s cultural drift is the book’s most grievous and inexplicable category error ... At its core, the book also pleads for something greater: the rehabilitation of shared values in a time of intense difference; a focus on culture as the deepest challenge of politics; and the ability to imagine virtue as part of who we are as citizens, whether Sasse gets it right or not.