The conservative author of Brainwashed: How Universities Indoctrinate America's Youth returns with a treatise on the need for the West to return to stronger "Judeo-Christian values" and the wisdom of Ancient Greece—before society comes crumbling down.
Mr. Shapiro gives us a necessarily selective but solid overview...touching on the theories, thoughts, philosophers, movements and religions that shaped our world and culminated in our nation ... In this strongly written survey of Western thought and cogent statement of democratic principle, Mr. Shapiro provides an analysis of our current crisis, its causes and potential cures, advocating a return to the basic values upon which our civilization was built ... Mr. Shapiro concludes with a reflection on the larger meaning of the parent/child relationship and a strong note of hope[.]
Shapiro covers a lot of ground in fewer than 220 pages of text. However, as he lays out his historical survey, his case weakens when he nears the present day. He manages, in a single sweeping passage, to blame Karl Marx and New Left theorist Herbert Marcuse for a variety of modern social ills: pediatrician Benjamin Spock’s once-revolutionary precepts on child care, the insidious self-esteem of the Me Generation ... His message, which is a reductive gloss of intellectual history synthesized for easy digestion, seems primarily aimed at equipping his readers to lecture their friends and talk over their teachers ... the book claims that 'people need meaning,' ... But Shapiro’s book, I’m afraid, would not have convinced me, if I weren’t already in that camp.
Shapiro’s spiritual challenge to secularism is not new. In fact, it is venerable ... Why, then, did I find his book so dispiriting? Partly because, instead of contending with great ideas, it deploys them as if they were toy soldiers or characters in a video game. The head spins as he trots past thinkers from Plato to Steven Pinker, frequently rendering tendentious judgments along the way ... Although I am sympathetic with elements of the author’s case, his galloping reductionism left me enervated and wishing his short book were even shorter ... May we hope that someday Shapiro will leaven his combativeness with curiosity?