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The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power [Hardcover]

By Jeff Sharlet (Author)
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Item description for The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power by Jeff Sharlet...

Draws on the author's experiences living undercover within the ranks of "the Family" theocratic group in Arlington, Virginia, to explore fundamentalism in America and its role in influencing democracy.

Publishers Description

A journalist's penetrating look at the untold story of christian fundamentalism's most elite organization, a self-described invisible network dedicated to a religion of power for the powerful

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 reported 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 as leadership models, the Family's current leader, Doug Coe, 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?"

Part history, part investigative journalism, The Family is a compelling account of how fundamentalism came to be interwoven with American power, a story that stretches from the religious revivals that have shaken this nation from its beginning to fundamentalism's new frontiers. No other book about the right has exposed the Family or revealed its far-reaching impact on democracy, and no future reckoning of American fundamentalism will be able to ignore it.

From Publishers Weekly
Checking in on a friends brother at Ivenwald, a Washington-based fundamentalist group living communally in Arlington, Va., religion and journalism scholar Sharlet finds a sect whose members refer to Manhattans Ground Zero as the ruins of secularism; intrigued, Sharlet accepts on a whim an invitation to stay at Ivenwald. Hes shocked to find himself in the stronghold of a widespread invisible network, organized into cells much like Ivenwald, and populated by elite, politically ambitious fundamentalists; Sharlet is present when a leader tells a dozen men living there, You guys are here to learn how to rule the world. As it turns out, the Family was established in 1935 to oppose FDRs New Deal and the spread of trade unions; since then, it has organized well-attended weekly prayer meetings for members of Congress and annual National Prayer Breakfasts attended by every president since Eisenhower. Further, the Familys international reach (almost impossible to overstate) has forged relationships between the U.S. government and some of the most oppressive regimes in the world. In the years since his first encounter, Sharlet has done extensive research, and his thorough account of the Familys life and times is a chilling expose. (May) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

Citations And Professional Reviews
The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power by Jeff Sharlet has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -

  • Library Journal - 05/19/2008
  • Kirkus Reviews - 04/15/2008 page 412
  • Christian Century - 10/21/2008 page 45

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Harper
Pages   454
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.23" Width: 6.37" Height: 1.46"
Weight:   1.55 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   May 20, 2008
Publisher   Harper Collins Publishers
ISBN  0060559799  
ISBN13  9780060559793  

Availability  0 units.

More About Jeff Sharlet

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Jeff Sharlet is associate professor of English at Dartmouth College and New York Times bestselling author of The Family, C Street, and Sweet Heaven When I Die. He lives in Norwich, VT.

Jeff Sharlet has an academic affiliation as follows - Dartmouth College.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Politics > General
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living > General

Christian Product Categories
Books > Christian Living > Practical Life > General

Reviews - What do customers think about The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power?

The Family rich elite fundamentalist in politics  May 2, 2010
I think a book about this group was definitely needed, especially, about how these guys think and what they have been able to accomplish and naming names was brave of Jeff. I just wish he had written more on the subject of the recent past instead of going all the way back to the beginning in the distant past and in so much detail. I struggled with this book I got bogged down with stuff that just wasn't that interesting to me I would have liked to see fewer pages 300 was more than the subject warranted.
Should be required reading!  Apr 26, 2010
I have read, in the course of my 53 years, more books than I can even begin to number. There are a few books among those that multitude that have had such an impact on not just how I feel about the subject, but which have changed my perception of the world...and this is one of those books. It's filled with amazing facts, fascinating in their presentation, scary(I worry for the author's safety!), and is an absolute MUST READ for anyone who, like me, has sensed for years like there is "something" going on in the world of politics and religion and we just are not getting the whole story. Mr. Sharlet fills us in on the story...and I'll never see the world the same way again.
Delivered information, but didn't tell a story  Apr 18, 2010
The Family is obviously a thorough undertaking with no shortage of information and supporting footnotes. What it misses is an author (or an editor) that tells a story with the information. The book lacks energy and drama and an obvious point of view, so it is work for the reader to stay committed to the end. The other thing it lacks is the smoking gun. There are lots of innuendo and drive-by associations the author attempts to create, but in the end it isn't that compelling. Is George Bush a puppet of the Family because he has a weekly call with one of its members. Is Hillary Clinton influenced by The Family because she shows up at an annual Prayer Breakfast? I think not. If I had to do it over again, I would not have invested the time.
a reminder of an important duty to be aware and understand  Apr 16, 2010
I had a hard time reading this book because it seemed rather disorganized at times, lacking the kind of smooth flow that I enjoyed in other non-fiction books, "No ordinary Time" by Doris Kearns, for example. But I think it is a daunting task to write about the history of the intriguing relationships of the American politics and religion, particularly, such a powerful, and yet rather secret force behind our current political system. So, I think this is an important book for raising political and intellectual awareness, and I certainly learned alot and was alarmed about this group's history and continuining influence in our history. I couldn't help but feeling pessimistic and hopeless about these believers who seem to have forgotten the real essence of the religion... if Ted Haggard's hypocrisy and exploitation/god-selling (as Jesus warned us against the Pharisees) have not shocked these people out of their world of selective and opportunistic applications of the Christian teaching, then what hope do we have?
much better than I expected  Apr 14, 2010
I thought that this would be my spring 'Stephen King' scary read, an adventure I was looking for. But now that I've started reading, I find that it's much more than that as it goes back into this country's history and is giving me an insight into the truly American character of fundamentalism and into to how the this part of Americaness resides within me even though I have no apparent connection to this modern movement.

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