Friday, July 10, 2009

Jeff Sharlet, The Family, 2008

"Just when we thought the Christian right was crumbling, Jeff Sharlet delivers a rude shock: One of its most powerful and cult-like core groups, the Family, has been thriving. Sharlet's book is one of the most compelling and brilliantly researched exposes you'll ever read -- just don't read it alone at night!"
--Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed, Bait and Switch, and Dancing in the Streets

From the bookjacket:

They are the Family—fundamentalism’s avant-garde, waging spiritual war in the halls of American power and around the globe. They consider themselves the new chosen, congressmen, generals, and foreign dictators who meet in confidential cells, to pray and plan for a “leadership led by God,” to be won not by force but through “quiet diplomacy.” Their base is a leafy estate overlooking the Potomac in Arlington, Virginia, and Jeff Sharlet is the only journalist to have written from inside its walls.

The Family is about the other half of American fundamentalist power—not its angry masses, but its sophisticated elites. Sharlet follows the story back to Abraham Vereide, an immigrant preacher who in 1935 organized a small group of businessmen sympathetic to European fascism, fusing the Far Right with his own polite but authoritarian faith. From that core, Vereide built an international network of fundamentalists who spoke the language of establishment power, a “family” that thrives to this day. In public, they host prayer breakfasts; in private they preach a gospel of “biblical capitalism,” military might, and American empire. Citing Hitler, Lenin, and Mao, the Family's leader declares, "We work with power where we can, build new power where we can't."

Sharlet’s discoveries dramatically challenge conventional wisdom about American fundamentalism, revealing its crucial role in the unraveling of the New Deal, the waging of the Cold War, and the no-holds-barred economics of globalization. The question Sharlet believes we must ask is not “What do fundamentalists want?” but “What have they already done?”

Order yours now.


"Of all the important studies of the American right, The Family is undoubtedly the most eloquent. It is also quite possibly the most terrifying. This story of a secretive and unmerciful church of 'key men' goes way beyond Jesus Christ, CEO—it's Jesus Christ, lobbyist; Jesus Christ, strikebreaker; and maybe even Jesus Christ, fuehrer."
--Thomas Frank, author of What's the Matter with Kansas?

"Forget what you think you know about the Christian Right; Jeff Sharlet has uncovered a frightening strain of hidden fundamentalism that forces us to revise our understanding of religion and politics in modern America. A brilliant marriage of investigative journalism and history, an unsettling story of how this small but powerful group shaped the faith of the nation in the 20th century and drives the politics of empire in the 21st. Anyone interested in circles of power will love this book."
--Debby Applegate, winner of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for biography for The Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher

"Jeff Sharlet has an incredibly rare double talent: the instincts of an investigative reporter coupled with the soul of a historian. He has managed to infiltrate the most influential and secretive fundamentalist network in America, and ground his reporting in the most astute and original explanation of fundamentalism I've ever read."
--Hanna Rosin, former religion reporter for the Washington Post and author of God's Harvard: A Christian College on a Mission to Save the Nation

"A gripping, utterly original narrative about an influential evangelical elite that few Americans even know exists. Jeff Sharlet's fine reporting unveils a group whose history stretches from the corporate foes of the New Deal to the congressional lawmakers who gather each year at the National Prayer Breakfast. The Christian Right will never look the same again."
--Michael Kazin, author of A Godly Hero: the Life of William Jennings Bryan

"The organization of influence these men constitute may remind readers of a Rotary Club—but it is a Rotary Club equipped with nuclear weapons. When the Family's members say 'Let us pray,' they are not just making a suggestion."
--Michael Lesy, author of Wisconsin Death Trip

“Un-American theocrats can only fool patriotic American democrats when there aren’t critics like Jeff Sharlet around -- careful scholars and soulful writers who understand both the majesty of faith and the evil of its abuses. A remarkable accomplishment in the annals of writing about religion.”
--Rick Perlstein, author of Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America

"Jeff Sharlet is one of the very best writers covering the politics of religion. Brilliantly reported and filled with wonderful anecdotes, The Family tells the story of an influential group that you haven't previously heard of, and need to know about."
--Ken Silverstein, Washington editor of Harper's and author of The Radioactive Boy Scout

“I was once an insider’s insider within fundamentalism. Unequivocally: Sharlet knows what he’s talking about. He writes: ‘Our refusal to recognize the theocratic strand running throughout American history is as self-deceiving as fundamentalism’s insistence that the United States was created a Christian nation.’ Those who want to be un-deceived (and wildly entertained) must read this disturbing tour de force.”
--Frank Schaeffer, author of Crazy For God: How I Grew Up As One Of The Elect, Helped Found The Religious Right, And Lived To Take All (Or Almost All) Of It Back

The Family offers the reader an astounding entrée to a fascinating Christian network unknown to most Americans. Jeff Sharlet has managed to peel back the curtain and reveal an elusive organization that wields an unsettling amount influence over our country’s lawmakers as well as business and political leaders worldwide. The Family is a must-read for any American who wants to know who is actually pulling the strings at the highest levels of power.”
--Heidi Ewing, co-director of Jesus Camp

“Jeff Sharlet provides a fascinating account of how part of American Christianity has gone off on a dangerous tangent. It should worry everyone -- maybe especially those of us who understand the Gospels to be a call to help the powerless, not prop up the powerful. In the last few years evangelicals have begun to reconsider their automatic support for the status quo; The Family will help accelerate that important renewal.”
--Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature and The Bill McKibben Reader

"The author of that Harper's piece is the fearless and fantastically talented Jeff Sharlet, who just came out with a book about [the Family]. I can't recommend the piece or the book strongly enough."
--Noam Scheiber, The New Republic