by Parker J. Palmer

Jossey-Bass, $24.95, 236 pages

The author, a distinguished Quaker activist, educator and founder of the Bainbridge Island-based Center for Courage and Renewal, joins a growing number of writers exploring the question: what’s gone wrong with America? Fueled by misplaced fear, rampant consumerism and hate-filled rhetoric, our two hundred year experiment in a political system that was originally intended to be of the people, by the people and for the people seems to be increasingly at risk of failure. In this critical essay that seeks to both inspire and incite, a strong case is made for changing course and seeking a different path. Referencing Lincoln, de Tocqueville and others, along with his own life experiences, Palmer calls on individuals and communities to have the courage to take action. Only by working to bring compassion and civility back to the social infrastructure on which our political institutions depend can the union survive. Readers looking for a thoughtful discourse on both current problems and potential solutions will find much here to ponder.

Reviewed by Linda Frederiksen,