Still The Last Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph Hardcover – Apr 16 2012
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From the Back Cover
In this visionary book, Dennis Prager, one of America's most original thinkers, contends that humanity confronts a monumental choice. The whole world must decide between American values and its two oppositional alternatives: Islamism and European-style democratic socialism.
Prager—a bestselling author, columnist, and nationally syndicated radio talk show host who is read and heard by millions of people in America and abroad—makes the case for the American value system as the most viable program ever devised to produce a good society. Those values are explained here more clearly and persuasively than ever before.
Still the Best Hope deals with three huge themes: The first is perhaps the most persuasive explanation for why Leftism has been and will always be a moral failure, despite its acknowledged appeal to many people of goodwill. The second explains why fundamentalist Islam, despite its historic and growing appeal, cannot make a good society. But Prager holds out hope for an open and tolerant Islam and explains why it will emerge from faithful American Muslims. The third is a singularly persuasive defense and explanation of what Prager calls the "American Trinity": liberty, values rooted in the Creator, and the melting-pot ideal. These values are inscribed on every American coin as "Liberty," "In God We Trust," and "E Pluribus Unum," and they are the reasons for America's greatness. Without them, America will cease to be an exceptional nation, and therefore cease to be America.
Prager shows why these values can and must be adopted by every nation and culture in the world, why Americans must relearn and recommit to these values, and why America must vigorously export them. For if the world does not adopt American values, the result will be chaos and barbarism on an unprecedented scale.
About the Author
Dennis Prager writes a syndicated column, hosts a radio show carried by 120 stations, and appears regularly on major Fox venues. He is the author ofHappiness Is a Serious ProblemandThink a Second Time.
Inside This Book(Learn More)
Top Customer Reviews
Prager's gift for clarity makes heavy and complicated topics surprisingly easy to read and understand.
Most people coast through life without giving much thought to the issues of this book, if they all read it, none of them will ever be the same.
This is an eye opener like non other, backed with 400 footnotes, it's the Best Hope to create informed citizenry and improve the world, one good person at a time.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
One more example of Shade's distortion: "In Prager's simplistic reductio ad absurdum there are only three, that's right THREE, philosophies in all the world." Prager never even suggested these are the only three "philosophies in all the world." In fact, you only have to get to page 16, still in the introduction, to see in bold letters, "Is there a Fourth - the Chinese - Alternative?" Prager then discusses their ideology as a model but dismisses it as a viable option for global hegemony. The reviewer shows his own simplistic reductio ad abdurdum by falsely assuming that viable hegemonic ideologies are the same as any ideology. Prager does not discuss anarchy, for example, since it is not a viable hegemonic ideology. Shade also fails to provide another possible global alternative that does not fall under the three Prager deconstructs.
Now for the 2-star review: "It's ironic how Prager routinely criticizes the left for its narcissism, and then he turns around and writes a book about how wonderful the U.S. empire is." At least this reviewer got half of it right - Prager does consistently point out how much better Leftists think they are than conservatives, morally, intellectually, etc. Prager wrote a 400 page book and spent only 80 on the American value system, let alone the US. The other 310 pages are not about the US, so arguing that he wrote a book about the US Empire is absurd and, as with the above, demonstrates that the reviewer did not read the book and is more interested in smearing a thoughtful conservative than in truth. One more: "Prager is often critical of the government, but doesn't take on that aspect of big government that causes so much suffering around the world, the military industrial complex." Prager discusses this on pages 49-51. He also discusses and debunks the Chris Hedges work (pointing out that those like him) castigates intolerance, but seems entirely unaware of the intolerance of his own rhetoric and positions regarding Christians in the US (see page 131). Finally, he discusses the role of the US military in that very context on pages 382-387. Here he argues that the US has been - despite it's moral blemishes which he discusses on pages 380-383 - the least oppressive, least authoritarian, and most benign world superpower in human history and has liberated, among others, the Japanese, Chinese, Germans, South Koreans, Kuwaitis, and Iraqis, respectively. The fact that Japan, Germany, and South Korea have been able to turn into such wonderful societies while US troops have continued to "occupy" suggests how different the US "Empire" has been from every single other global power in recorded history. The US also leads the world in charitable giving and is the first place people all over the world look to when natural disasters or human-inflicted evils happen. Just as those in Haiti regarding the former and Kuwait regarding the latter. A final example to prove the reviewer never read the book nor likely listened to his show: "Most people who like Prager's views aren't interested in exploring alternative views." The whole point of the book is to explore alternative views and his shortest section is on the one he advocates.
The book Prager did write is about the three most viable ideological systems in the world today - what he calls Leftism, Islamism, and Americanism. He provides a wonderful appendix at the end of the book listing the American and Leftist positions to major issues such as "the state," "primary source of evil," "family ideal," "individual's income," "place of religion in America," etc. Prager's thesis is that the best hope for a better world is embodied in the American value system, which is synonymous with conservatism.
Prager devotes over half of the book to Leftism, precisely defining it, articulating what the ideology contains, why it is attractive to hundreds of millions of people, and its moral record during the 20th century. Leftism for Prager is embodied in the social democratic parties of Western Europe and the Democratic Party in the US. Ultimately he concludes that Leftism and all of its satellite ideologies - feminism, environmentalism, secularism, moral relativism, etc. - morally and economically bankrupt those who adhere to it. Prager contends that although its advocates use moral rhetoric and are well-intentioned, the policies they espouse produce selfishness, apathy, and, as seen in Western Europe's birth-rate, a staggering ennui. To support his case he looks not only to the obvious failures of 20th century far Left in the former Soviet Union, China, Cuba, Laos, and North Korea, but the seemingly successful cases like France, Germany, and Spain. Though he admits these are decent countries that have relatively more liberty than most of the rest of the world, their preoccupation with economic equality and state-sponsored benefits has economically and morally bankrupted an entire continent. He claims that most people in these countries do not recognize true evil - communism, Islamism, Terrorism - and instead choose to fight lesser or quasi-evils like climate change, second hand smoke, or onomastic notions of "intolerance." Prager also shows how ideas from the Left pervade our most influential institutions - the university, primary and secondary schools, many churches and other religious institutions, Hollywood, and almost all media outlets - talk radio and Fox News excluded. His deconstruction of the language that the media uses in presenting what otherwise seems like "just the news" is particularly revealing. For example, he shows how AP reports frequently choose to use terms like "sectarian violence" to describe Islamic terror while carefully avoiding the terms "Muslim, Islamic," etc. - be it violence against Christians, Jews, or fellow Muslims. They do this, Prager notes, while carefully not ascribing Islamic influences to terrorism committed by those like Nidal Hassan who screamed "Allahu Akbar," before shooting 13 innocents, was a card-carrying member of "Soldier of Allah," and raised repeated red flags about his Islamist sympathies. Finally, Prager contends that Leftism's preoccupation with having others (the state) provide for even the able-bodied citizen has, and will continue to, wear away at the fabrics of what was once a dynamic European culture. In short, they have produced a culture that stresses individual benefits but collective (and therefore no meaningful) responsibility.
Next Prager analyzes Islamism, which he defines as a political form of violent Islam that is embodied in Hamas, Hezbollah, and Al Qaeda. He never seriously considers the US as possibly moving toward Islamism, but does implicitly suggest that it poses a real threat to the African continent, the Middle-East where it already dominates in many areas, and even Southern and Western Europe. He indirectly suggests that the latter could fall victim to Islamism due to their Leftist commitment to multiculturalism, inability to recognize true evil and assimilate foreigners, and their quasi-pacifism. Prager, a scholar at the Middle-East Institute at the Columbia University School of International Affairs, is critical of Islamism, but takes pains to distinguish it from other forms of peaceful Islam that are practiced peacefully throughout the world. That said, he is also careful to note that the number of peaceful adherents to Islam is irrelevant to the threat of Islamism. He cites the relatively few Nazi supporters there were in Germany in 1932 or committed communists in the Soviet Union or China as evidence to suggest that it is not the presence of a peaceful majority that matters, but the hegemonic influence of the threatening minority and the way the majority responds to that threat, that are important. For example, only 7-10% of the Islamic world supports Islamism, but that minority is still no less a threat. Finally, Prager holds out hope for the Muslim world by concluding that Islam - though it is in a low moral, intellectual, social, and economic state today, with its honor killings, intolerance of other religions, and obsession with de-legitimizing and destroying Israel - can have a bright future. He compares the medieval Christian world, which had many of the same characteristics - religious bigotry, little emphasis on liberty, etc. - to show how reformation is possible. He insists that the only way that it is possible, however, is if the Left, through organizations like CAIR, stop stymieing all criticism toward Islam and Muslims themselves unite in large numbers to condemn violence in their name. Here, as with the world in general, he believes that American Muslims hold out the best hope for Muslims elsewhere.
Prager's last section, though brief, is on Americanism. Here he articulates, better than any writer I know of, the case for conservatism and American values. He insists that American values are, as inscribed on our coinage, E Pluribus Unum, In God We Trust, and, most important, Liberty. Prager contrasts these values with the Leftist values of Multiculturalism, Secularism, and Equality. Though not all Leftists disdain liberty and not all Rightists disdain equality, he carefully demonstrates where each differs. He outlines 11 total American values in addition to these three pillars, showing how reason, for example, is critically important in any culture, but is insufficient by itself. He also argues for the sanctity of human life, the distinction between animals and humans, the difference between nature and, as Jefferson would put it, Natures God, and the limits of using material wealth as the supreme value the way the Left does. Prager insists that these values are not specific to America and can be adopted by any country, using Uruguay and as an example. He draws an important distinction here - other nations may retain their own cultures while simultaneously adopting these values. Finally, Prager tackles the typical charges that Islamists and those on the Left make against America. Claims of "American Imperialism" are presented in context with comparable global powers to demonstrate how benign (despite sometimes overstepping bounds) the US has been over the last 100 years. He also presents a particularly compelling case for why America - even if one believes it is not a net force for good in the world - is better than any non-utopian alternative; namely, China, Russia, Iran, Turkey, Western Europe, and the UN.
Though Dennis Prager has few moderate ideological positions (he is as ideologically pure a conservative as exists), his presentation is as calm, fair, and clear as anyone writing today of any persuasion. All Americans should read this book. Even if one detests the Right, this is as lucid an explanation of conservative thought as exists. We owe it to ourselves to read the best of those with whom we differ. This book qualifies as the best. Thoughtful moderates and liberals - though few Leftists - will find the text to be well-reasoned and the conclusions insightful, even if they disagree on certain matters. For others, it will change the way they view the world. The book is almost 400 pages, contains 350 endnotes, and at least another 100 in-text references.
I have been listening to Dennnis for about six years now and was anxious to read this. Unlike the trolls who posted negative reviews, I actually read the book. Dennis has a gift. If you listen to him, whether you are atheist, Christian, agnostic, leftist, or whatever belief system you have, you cannot help but think, "this is a guy I could sit down with and have an amazing conversation."
With his remarkable clarity, and exhaustive footnotes and examples, Dennis lays out a remarkable case for the Title of his book.
I am a Christian, Dennis is a Jew. Yet through his radio show and this book, he has demonstrated to me that it truly does hinge on values.
A remarkable book by a remarkable man.
My hope is that many people will read this and look to the future of what a better society and legacy we can leave the future generations.