Category Archives: Book Reviews


by on April 16th, 2014

Steven Smith’s new book implies that it is still possible—though difficult—to recover what made the U.S. a land of free and flourishing belief.

by on April 7th, 2014

Although Nigel Biggar’s new book on just war has many strengths, the author gets himself into a moral muddle over the question whether the deaths of innocent non-combatants can be deliberately chosen in war.

by on March 31st, 2014

Why bother with American culture? Bottum recommends despair.

by on March 18th, 2014

For Justice Clarence Thomas, the foundation of all our law lies in the self-evident truths of the Declaration of Independence, beginning with human equality.

by on February 25th, 2014

Both natural law thought and the Catechism agree: animals are not part of the same justice community as human beings, because they do not possess the dignity that comes from existing as a rational being.

by on February 24th, 2014

Animals are not simply “a gift for human beings.” The needless cruelty inflicted on animals by factory farming not only violates a duty to provide them just treatment, but far outweighs the goods that humans gain by eating such meat.

by on February 12th, 2014

Thomas Paine’s rationalistic emphasis on freedom, equality, and rights form the basis of our political discourse. Even so, Edmund Burke has something essential to teach us: the way we order our society will always be the consequence, first and foremost, of the way we love.

by on January 30th, 2014

The differences between Edmund Burke and Thomas Paine shed light on contemporary politics, argues Yuval Levin in his new book. But they also shed light on something deeper: two fundamentally contrasting orientations toward the world.

by on January 17th, 2014

The embrace of a materialist and mechanistic view of the world, taking its inspiration from the rise of modern science, results in a loss of the sense of transcendence. But God is not simply some finite object in a universe of other objects—he is reason, being, and order itself.

by on January 7th, 2014

Every economic system is based upon an implicit vision of the human person. Maciej Zieba’s new book provides an introduction to Catholic social thought that examines the anthropologies of Catholicism, liberal democracy, and the free-market economy.

by on December 20th, 2013

Because animals are not truly our equals, advocating that we should treat them as such weakens the pro-life cause. But animals are meant to be part of our households, and the way we treat them should express beauty and virtue, not decay, pride, and domination.

by on December 19th, 2013

Charles Camosy’s new book argues that we should treat animals with the same Christian justice that underlies our treatment of other people. But human beings and other animals are not fundamentally equal in the way that all human beings are, as free and rational beings created in the image of God.

by on December 18th, 2013

Infertile parents who desperately seek a child might see anonymous sperm donation as the solution to their fertility difficulties. But as the stories in the Anonymous Us collective reveal, the difficulties faced by donor-conceived children are just beginning.

by on December 12th, 2013

How should Christians form relationships with Muslims?

by on November 25th, 2013

With optimism, precision, and intellectual elegance, Russell Kirk’s “The Conservative Mind” defined what it meant to be an American conservative for the second half of the twentieth century.

by on November 22nd, 2013

Jonathan Rauch, in his memoir Denial, argues that only access to the institution of marriage can make gays and lesbians whole. In doing so, he purposefully suppresses the truth that there are many other options available to those who are attracted to persons of the same sex.

by on November 18th, 2013

One Body, by Alexander Pruss, melds rigorous philosophical analysis and insightful moral theology to advance a clearly-articulated system of sexual ethics based on the call to love.

by on November 4th, 2013

In most cases, Catholic social teaching provides the correct principles for resolving complex social and economic questions, not specific policy requirements. Nathan Shlueter reviews Sam Gregg’s new book in the voice of Paul Ryan.

by on October 24th, 2013

Radical, by Maajid Nawaz, brings the reader inside the individual human dynamics of one young man’s transition into extremist Islamism and his eventual departure from it.

by on July 29th, 2013

A young Muslim author learns to seek the truth about God through questioning instead of blind faith.

by on July 19th, 2013

In his new book on Abraham Lincoln, Rich Lowry depicts our famous president as a lover of freedom, commerce, and progress whom we revere on the same plane as the founders because he, like them, articulated enduring principles that we still value.

by on June 25th, 2013

Gabriel Schoenfeld’s new book, A Bad Day on the Romney Campaign, offers an insider’s account of how misguided campaign tactics led to Mitt Romney’s defeat in the 2012 presidential election.

by on June 5th, 2013

In The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Rod Dreher eulogizes his little sister with a hagiography worthy of St. Therese herself, while also evaluating his own relationships—to people and to place—according to the virtue of stability proposed by St. Benedict.

by on April 5th, 2013

As Stephen Krason’s new book argues, America has departed from the founders’ design, and the founders may be partially responsible. But this claim is only as strong as the interpretation of the founding behind it.

by on February 26th, 2013

Jonathan Last’s new book attributes population decline and the birth dearth to two trends that started in the Enlightenment era—first, an effort to limit death; second, an effort to control birth. Both trends are guided by a desire to control nature.

by on February 22nd, 2013

Calvin Coolidge is an exemplar for conservative leaders because he was the very opposite of an ideological dreamer; he saw his vocation as a duty to provide the country that elected him with honest and frugal government that respected limits.

by on January 4th, 2013

Michael Klarman’s history of the push for same-sex marriage shows just how recently it’s developed and how its leaders lack substantive arguments for the nature and purpose of marriage itself.

by on November 6th, 2012

The Reformation unintentionally undid the medieval synthesis of faith and reason. Now we romantically seek a spiritual life free from authority and tradition, or rationalistically seek truth as if human beings were autonomous and self-sufficient.

by on October 3rd, 2012

A new argument that reduces marriage to any consensual caring relationship is grounded by a cynical view of human nature that we ought not accept.

by on October 1st, 2012

Hannah Rosin’s argument that women are replacing men as victors in a battle of the sexes ignores that happiness requires women and men to be partners, not competitors, in life.

by on September 26th, 2012

The Hebrew Scriptures, read as a work of political theory, offer egalitarian, communitarian, and individualistic themes; two recent books incompletely capture the presence of all three.

by on September 20th, 2012

Is inequality the cause of our worst social ills?

by on September 12th, 2012

Nathan Harden’s “Sex and God at Yale” graphically shows what moral bankruptcy and relativism has produced at the Ivies.

by on August 17th, 2012

Michael Rosen’s effort to clarify the history and meaning of dignity ignores Christianity’s important philosophical contributions.

by on August 10th, 2012

For Emile Durkheim, God and religion were nothing more than the idols of the tribe and the tribe's own self-worship; why do so many Western intellectuals take this as the last word on the subject? The second in a two-part series.

by on August 9th, 2012

Although religion and God-belief are in some sense an illusion for Jonathan Haidt, they are seen as an often salutary fiction insofar as they help people to overcome their self-centeredness and direct their efforts to a greater collective good. The first in a two-part series.

by on August 2nd, 2012

It’s far too easy when bickering about this or that policy, and particularly when the policy is morally charged, to miss the values modeled by good men and women when we disagree on the means.

by on July 3rd, 2012

Vigilance on behalf of religious liberty is a just response to what is highest and noblest in human experience—mankind’s relation to something higher and nobler than itself. Adapted from a monograph by the Witherspoon Institute’s Task Force on International Religious Freedom.

by on June 22nd, 2012

Man cannot properly be free without that by virtue of which his freedom has meaning.

by on June 12th, 2012

In his new book "Where the Conflict Really Lies," Alvin Plantinga levels a devastating critique against the “new atheism” espoused by thinkers such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens.

by on June 1st, 2012

A book about sex by J. Budziszewski uses natural law arguments to persuade young adults of the moral benefits of purity.

by on May 29th, 2012

By showing the triumph of the therapeutic over the orthodox in American Christianity, Ross Douthat’s latest book gives Americans on both sides of the political divide much to consider.

by on May 4th, 2012

Jeffrey Eugenides shows what happens to the novel when courtship and marriage lose their binding character.

by on March 23rd, 2012

An America without social conservatism would be stripped of its conservative enlightenment roots and go the way of Europe via entitlements and centralized economic regulation.

by on February 8th, 2012

Charles Murray argues we’ve come apart, but can therapeutic Deism and the sexual revolution put us back together?

by on February 2nd, 2012

Neither liberal nor libertarian, a principled conservative way of helping the poor.

by on January 4th, 2012

A new biography of Margaret Sanger fails to confront the Planned Parenthood founder’s ideological commitment to eugenics and population control.

by on December 21st, 2011

In his new book, George McGovern refuses to acknowledge his role in fusing a Democratic coalition of lifestyle liberals and the public costs this has entailed.

by on December 5th, 2011

Judges and legal scholars rarely agree on what was the original meaning, understanding, or intent behind the Establishment Clause. Donald Drakeman’s book Church, State, and Original Intent critiques current views and offers a new approach.

by on December 1st, 2011

The tradition of common morality does not permit us to excuse the atomic bomb as a “necessary” evil.

Featured


by Ryan T. Anderson on October 13th, 2008
An introductory letter from the founder and editor of Public Discourse.
by Mark Regnerus on December 20th, 2012
Young adult men’s support for redefining marriage may not be entirely the product of ideals about expansive freedoms, rights, liberties, and fairness. It may be, in part, a byproduct of regular exposure to diverse and graphic sex acts.
by Ryan T. Anderson on December 18th, 2012
How successful can a “new conversation on marriage” be when its leaders can’t even say what marriage is?
by Sherif Girgis on February 15th, 2013
Marriage as a human good, not marriage law, has an objective core whose norms the state has an interest in tracking and supporting—in a way that respects everyone’s freedom.
by Robert Oscar Lopez on February 11th, 2013
Whatever same-sex marriage is, that’s not what gays are after. They are after a symbolic vehicle that can make them equal to people who can do something they cannot—procreate.
by Patrick Fagan on February 6th, 2013
Family, church, and school are the three basic people-forming institutions, and it is no wonder that they produce the best results—including economic and political ones—when they cooperate.

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