Log In

Subscriber-Only Content; You must be a PW subscriber to access the Table-of-Contents Database.

Get a digital subscription to Publishers Weekly for only $18.95/month.

Your subscription gives you instant access exclusive feature articles on notable figures in the publishing industry, he latest industry news, interviews of up and coming authors and bestselling authors, and access over 200,000 book reviews.

PW "All Access" site license members have access to PW's subscriber-only website content. To find out more about PW's site license subscription options please email: pw@pubservice.com or call 1-800-278-2991 (U.S.) or 1-818-487-2069 (all other countries), Monday-Friday between 5am and 5pm Pacific time.

White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism

Robin Diangelo. Beacon, $16 (184p) ISBN 978-0-8070-4741-5

Diangelo (What Does It Mean to Be White?), a race scholar and professional diversity trainer, delivers a thoughtful, instructive, and comprehensive book on challenging racism by understanding and working against what she terms “white fragility,” the reaction in which white people feel offended or attacked when the topic of racism arises. She explains that the book is primarily intended for white audiences to aid in “building our stamina” for tolerating these discussions in order to challenge racism. Diangelo brings together personal experiences, extensive research, and real-world examples—including missteps she herself has made, such as joking inappropriately about a black colleague’s hair—to demonstrate how entrenched racism remains a societal norm in institutions and white people’s mindsets, including supposedly “colorblind” thinking and behavior. Her analysis effectively challenges the widespread notion that “only intentionally mean people can participate in racism”; rather, she explains, racism is “deeply embedded in the fabric of our society.” She ends with a step-by-step blueprint for confronting and dismantling one’s own white fragility to try to “interrupt” racism. This slim book is impressive in its scope and complexity; Diangelo provides a powerful lens for examining, and practical tools for grappling with, racism today. (June)

Reviewed on 04/20/2018 | Details & Permalink

show more
Why We Need Religion

Stephen T. Asma. Oxford Univ., $29.95 (264p) ISBN 978-0-19-046967-2

Asma (The Evolution of Imagination), professor of philosophy and founding fellow of the Research Group in Mind, Science, and Culture at Columbia College, Chicago, outlines an eloquent argument for the benefits of religion in this short, engrossing work. Asma sidesteps discussions of truth and rational justification, and instead focuses on the impact religion has on the emotional lives of believers. Using an interdisciplinary approach, the book integrates evidence from biology, anthropology, philosophy, and religious studies to show how religions provide frameworks to help believers navigate intense emotions such as fear, sorrow, resilience, and joy. Asma deals fluently in a wide range of cultural references, relating his own personal experiences living in Cambodia and his revealing tour of the Creation Museum, and unpacking diverse texts such as the Bible, the Koran, and even the music of Chance the Rapper. His fluid prose meets a high scholarly standard and holds the reader’s attention: “Religion’s primary function is not to provide a path to morality or to substitute for a scientific understanding of nature. Its chief virtues are as a ‘coping mechanism’ for our troubles, and as social glue for our community.” Balanced in its approach and careful in its research, Asma’s fine book will appeal equally to religious and non-religious readers, and provides a genuinely fresh perspective on tired old discussions. (June)

Reviewed on 04/20/2018 | Details & Permalink

show more
To Heal the World? How the Jewish Left Corrupts Judaism and Endangers Israel

Jonathan Neumann. All Points, $26.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1250-16087-4

Neumann, a former fellow at Commentary magazine, questions whether the Hebrew Bible supports the political agenda of liberal American Jews in this provocative but flawed assessment of the basis of Jewish social justice movements. Neumann is at his best as he grounds his arguments with close readings of texts. His analysis of Abraham’s argument with God about the fate of the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah is particularly well done. Instead of seeing Abraham as an exemplar of the human insistence on justice (even in the face of divine opposition), Neumann persuasively argues that Abraham’s capitulation to God’s decree was an acknowledgment that God was acting justly. But while Neumann offers logical arguments on how the Hebrew Bible has been selectively used by the left, he resorts to ad hominem attacks to make his points—spending, for example, a disproportionate amount of time on Tikkun magazine founder Michael Lerner. Even open-minded readers are likely to find Neumann undermines his case with offensive statements such as his contention that Jews pursuing social justice are looking to rebrand “Marxism as Judaism.” Though the author’s tendency toward inflammatory language and generalizations will turn some readers off, the work nonetheless will spark useful discussions about the intersections of Judaism and politics. (June)

Reviewed on 04/20/2018 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Spiritual Mandela: Faith and Religion in the Life of Nelson Mandela

Dennis Cruywagen. Imagine, $24.99 (224p) ISBN 978-1-62354-530-7

This insightful investigation of an often downplayed side of politician and activist Nelson Mandela from South African journalist Cruywagen (Brothers in War and Peace) provides a nuanced understanding of how faith influenced the renowned civil rights activist. The book begins with rich biographical details, providing context to frame Cruywagen’s claim that spirituality (though perhaps not organized religion itself) guided Mandela. Born into a royal lineage, Mandela’s father followed traditional religious practices, and it was not until Mandela’s mother became a Methodist that he was exposed to Christianity. His farseeing father realized that for his son to succeed in colonized South Africa, Mandela would need a Western education. At the time, the only way for black South Africans in his area to access education was through the schools offered by Methodist missionaries, so Mandela converted. Religion again played a key role in his life when the apartheid government imprisoned him. Throughout his time on Robben Island, he was exposed to the teachings of various religions, as religious leaders were among the few visitors the isolated prisoners were allowed to see. Though Mandela was publicly circumspect about his religious views, Cruywagen’s well-researched book offers a clear account of how religion threaded through his life. (June)

Reviewed on 04/20/2018 | Details & Permalink

show more
Mindful of Race: Transforming Racism from the Inside Out

Ruth King. Sounds True, $17.95 trade paper (280p) ISBN 978-1-68364-081-3

Meditation instructor King draws on her long experience with meditation and diversity consulting for multinational companies (such as Levi Strauss and Intel) in this helpful overview of using meditation and mindfulness to work through pain and conflict rooted in structural racism. King offers clear and specific guidelines for meditation practices intended to help both people of color and white people work through racial trauma and contribute to dismantling racism. For example, King outlines a framework for dealing with difficult emotions through four steps: recognizing, allowing, investigating, and not identifying. Her voice is expert yet soothing as she shares personal stories as well as facts about racial disparities in society to fully establish the problems stemming from racism and why they should be resolved. “Racism is a heart disease,” she writes. “How we think and respond is at the heart of racial suffering and racial healing. If we cannot think clearly and respond wisely, we will continue to damage the world heart.” Although the book is directed toward an audience already interested in antiracist work and meditation, King’s keen advice will be impactful for anyone looking to deepen a meditation practice or invest further in racial awareness and justice. (June)

Reviewed on 04/20/2018 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Magic Ten and Beyond: Daily Spiritual Practice for Greater Peace and Well-Being

Sharon Gannon. TarcherPerigee, $17 ISBN 978-1-5247-0517-6

This eclectic book from Gannon (Simple Recipes for Joy), dancer, musician, and cofounder of the Jivamukti Yoga Method, presents a spiritually uplifting 10-week program of practices inspired by Egyptian hieroglyphs. After beginning with a short chapter on mental exercises such as giving blessings, Gannon introduces the core physical practices of her program: meditation, breathing (pranayama), and dancing (based on aerobics) that are intended to help elevate one’s spiritual awareness. The title refers to a 10-minute series of yoga-based spinal movements. Gannon’s “mystery and magic” approach—particularly her attempts to draw links between Indian yoga and ancient Egyptian spiritual practices, without evidence beyond her intuition—may not appeal to some readers, but much of the information will be useful for the general seeker, including easy-to-follow exercises and key wisdom about the spiritual path (such as reduction of the ego, kindness, and the importance of daily practice). Black-and-white photos of the author illustrate various poses, and a glossary of Sanskrit terms is included for comprehension and further study. Gannon’s simple advice will be welcome to all spiritual seekers, but some of her expert poses shouldn’t be attempted by beginners without a yoga teacher’s guidance. Those already exposed to the spirituality of yoga (or Gannon’s work in particular) will be most likely to find this uneven book helpful. (June)

Reviewed on 04/20/2018 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Little Book of Sufi Stories

Neil Douglas-Klotz. Hampton Roads, $15.95 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-1-57174-829-4

Douglas-Klotz, director of the Edinburgh Institute for Advanced Learning, compiles an entertaining booklet of Sufi stories. These practical, ghostly, and often very funny tales come from a variety of Sufi works, including those by saints like Rumi as well as lay storytellers from Turkey and Persia. Some stories are religious allegories, such as those from the life of Jesus or Jonah as told by Muslim storytellers, and will be of interest to comparative religion aficionados. Other stories are twisted fairy tales such as “The Lady and the Golden Lampstand,” in which the prince is unable to save anyone and the Cinderella-like heroine must be her own fairy godmother. In addition to sharing serious lessons, Douglas-Klotz includes a host of popular, humorous characters that many readers will recognize—particularly Mullah Nasruddin, whose capers are well-known throughout the Muslim world. At the end of the volume is a large list of books containing these and other Sufi accounts. This sampler of Sufi wisdom is a must-read for anyone interested in non-Western folktales. (June)

Reviewed on 04/20/2018 | Details & Permalink

show more
Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again

Rachel Held Evans. Thomas Nelson, $16.99 (240p) ISBN 978-0-7180-2231-0

Evans (A Year of Biblical Womanhood) introduces readers to Biblical criticism in her gratifying work on approaching the Bible. Shaped by her staunch religious upbringing and eventual doubts about her faith, Evans finds a graceful balance between challenging fundamentalist readings of the Bible and opposing outright dismissal of biblical tales. She devotes chapters to important genres, including origin stories, deliverance tales, accounts of war, and narratives of prophetic resistance. Before each chapter, Evans creatively retells a biblical story in a way that models her call for readers to think freshly about the Bible. With a serious yet conversational tone, she explores the original context of Bible stories to enrich their power. For instance, she writes, the Babylonian exile and threatening loss of identity explain Israel’s creation stories, and the Roman empire’s domineering edicts make Paul’s letters a smart response to political pressures of the time. Her chapter on miracle stories—which argues that one should focus on how these stories can bring personal change, rather than on proving or disproving them—is particularly touching. This appealing and open book will provide readers of all theological persuasions a clear picture of how the tools of scholarship can be deployed to bolster the Bible’s impact and beauty. (June)

Reviewed on 04/20/2018 | Details & Permalink

show more
Divided: Rejecting Shame, Embracing Vulnerability, and Discovering the Power of Radical Authenticity

Vicky Beeching. HarperOne, $26.99 (290) ISBN 978-0-06-243990-1

In this heartfelt, honest debut, Beeching tells the story of growing up evangelical in the U.K., going to college, and scoring a major Christian recording deal—all while knowing she was gay and doing her best to pretend otherwise. Beeching knew from her early teens that she liked girls and didn’t like boys. Her church preached that homosexuality was “an abomination,” but no matter what Beeching did—answering an altar call, joining the Christian youth organization True Love Waits, attending an evangelical seminary, going out on plenty of dates with men, denying herself as a sexual being altogether—she was unable to stop having feelings for other women. Beeching’s prose flows easily as she tells a straightforward story of coming to terms with her sexuality and coming out. The narrative reveals her relief in living out her true identity, but also the complications her honesty caused. Readers will be heartbroken as Beeching describes being unable to enjoy her incredible musical success and revel in her strong faith because of concerns about her sexuality—a sorrow that led her to contemplate suicide. Christian young adults with questions about sexual identity in relation to their faith will find Beeching’s memoir illuminating, and all readers will relate to her earnest struggle against the pressure to conform to impossible expectations. (June)

Reviewed on 04/20/2018 | Details & Permalink

show more
Believe Me

John Fea. Eerdmans, $24.99 (208p) ISBN 978-0-8028-7641-6

Fea (Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?), professor of American history at Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, Pa., unpacks the historical roots of Trump’s support among evangelical Christians in this clear, concise, and convincing work. A self-identified evangelical who was appalled by the 2016 election, Fea attempts to explain the overwhelming evangelical support for a president who seems antithetical to traditional Christian values. Fea uses his training as a historian to trace a chronology of the evangelical attraction to political power and locates three historical appeals to evangelicals that Trump exploits: fear of perceived threats (both foreign and domestic), desired access to political power, and nostalgia for a perceived American golden age. Fea looks for connections between Trump’s nostalgic rhetoric and particular historical events such as the racist Andrew Jackson presidency and the “America First” movement that strove to keep the U.S. out of WWII. He also provides a frightening portrait of outspoken evangelical leaders with direct access to Trump (including Baptist writer Robert Jeffress and Christian Zionist Mike Evans), and offers an alternative way (relying on hope and humility) for evangelical leaders to think about their relation to power. Although Fea downplays the mythic side of Trump’s appeal, that does little to undermine this important title, which brings to the surface the recurring fear tactics that underpin American evangelical politics. (June)

Reviewed on 04/20/2018 | Details & Permalink

show more
X
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
X
X
Email Address

Password

Log In Lost Password

Parts of this site are only available to paying PW subscribers. Subscribers: to set up your digital access click here.

To subscribe, click here.

PW “All Access” site license members have access to PW’s subscriber-only website content. Simply close and relaunch your preferred browser to log-in. To find out more about PW’s site license subscription options please email: pw@pubservice.com.

If you have questions or need assistance setting up your account please email pw@pubservice.com or call 1-800-278-2991 (U.S.) or 1-818-487-2069 (all other countries), Monday-Friday between 5am and 5pm Pacific time for assistance.

Not Registered? Click here.