William J. Bennett and Seth Leibsohn, The Fight Of Our Lives (Nashville: Thomas Nelson), 2011, 183 pages, $11.15.
Summary: The Fight Of Our Lives is a “cultural call to arms” (xv) for America in her fight against Radical Islam. The authors make the case that the honesty of popular rhetoric has deteriorated to the extent that we purposely distort American history, culture, and the truth of what we see with our own eyes whenever we discuss Islam in any of its manifestations, terrorist or otherwise. We simply cannot speak of Islam as anything other than a joyous gift to the West.
About the Authors: Both Dr. Bennett and Mr. Leibsohn are fellows at the Claremont Institute, a conservative California-based organization created in 1979 and dedicated to the restoration of America’s first principles as expressed in the Declaration of Independence and Constitution. Dr. Bennett has a long history of government service, beginning as Secretary of Education and chairman of the National Endowment of the Humanities under President Reagan and followed by a position as “Drug Czar” under President Bush (’41). Of particular note relative to the book is Dr. Bennett’s current position as host of the popular conservative radio talk show Bill Bennett’s Morning in America. Mr. Leibshohn is a writer and communicator on both domestic and foreign policy, and is a manager partner of Leibsohn and Associates, a Washington, DC-based consulting firm.
Discussion: Bookshelves are becoming increasingly full of books declaring the threat of Radical Islam upon America and all western culture. Among these are Mark Steyns’ America Alone: The End of the World As We Know It (Regnery, 2006) and Lights Out: Islam, Free Speech, and the Twilight of the West (Stockade Books, 2009); Bruce Bawer’s While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam Is Destroying the West From Within (Anchor, 2007) and Surrender: Appeasing Islam, Sacrificing Freedom (Anchor, 2010). Robert Spencer, director of Jihad Watch (http://jihadwatch.org), a program of the David Horowitz Freedom Center has written extensively on Islam and its threat to the West; one work that parallels the message of Fight is Stealth Jihad: How Radical Islam is Subverting America Without Guns Or Bombs (Regnery, 2008). (The effectiveness of these books in changing the behavior of popular culture and our elected representatives is debatable given the current administration and the mainstream media. That discussion is outside the purpose of this review.)
Fight focuses on the rhetoric and behavior of current administration, but not exclusively so. The descent into dangerous “political correctness,” PC, has been a long process that did not begin with the Obama administration; that it has escalated during the current administration is clear to anyone who reads information available outside the mainstream (ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN) media, including the books mentioned above). Political correctness is defined in Merriam-Webster online “as conforming to a belief that language and practices which could offend political sensibilities (as in matters of sex or race) should be eliminated.” Fight seeks to show that PC relative to Islam is not only foolish, but collectively dangerous.
Fight uses the Fort Hood Massacre as a focal point of its narrative. The event and the administration’s reaction to it are illustrative of the extent to which America has descended into dangerous territory that not only forbids true speech concerning Islam but actively punishes it. The book describes the process by which America finds herself in this predicament, using specific examples and events in the news. Any American who has read a paper or a book or who has watched television in the past ten years or so will be familiar with the events and people Fight mentions. Depending upon the news source, there may or may not be agreement with the conclusions Fight states: that PC rhetoric and behavior relative to Islam is dangerous and must no longer be tolerated; and that America must reject its multiculturalism narrative as destructive and return to educating its citizens on historical fact and the principles contained in the founding documents of the Declaration and Constitution. Fight makes the claim ignoring the danger and refusing to change how we fight Radical Islam will prove to be the destruction of America as a beacon of light and freedom to the world.
Conclusion: While the premise and details Fight presents are verifiably accurate and its recommended solutions arguably necessary, the book itself is so poorly written that although I agreed with every contention and solution, it was ultimately a disappointing read.
The book reads as if we were listening to Dr. Bennett’s radio program, but without the callers calling in to tell us the answers to the questions he is asking. Much of the book is a list of questions, as though Dr. Bennett is laying the groundwork for a morning’s discussion of the problem. While the questions are appropriate to a radio format, the book shows a surprising lack of focus or logical argument. Like his radio show, Dr. Bennett’s conservative fans will find themselves in agreement with him; because the book lacks coherent argument, it will probably not convince anyone who is not already a conservative. This is disappointing because I suspect this was one of the authors’ goals.
My suggestion is to focus on what the authors meant to say, find them on the radio and enjoy what their wisdom and expertise add to the conversation, then read the books mentioned above for information on the current crisis on America’s fight against Islam.
Disclosure: I received this book from BookSneeze in exchange for an honest review.