The War for Righteousness, by Richard M. Gamble. This is a fascinating account of how the progressive Protestant clergy in America transformed themselves from principled pacifists to crusading interventionists in the period leading to World War I. Gamble explores the inner workings of the institutions of the “social gospel” and liberal theology, explaining how they became the leading edge of internationalism and the policy of “democracy as redemption” for a “fallen” world that, in their view, could only be saved through the agency of total war. This book greatly expanded my understanding of the progressive movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, its power and scope, and its strains that still resonate in the American psyche.
Total Truth, by Nancy Pearcey. This book explains how the public and private, secular and sacred, spheres of our cultural heritage became divided, and provides an insightful analysis of this division and how it undermines our efforts at cultural and personal renewal. Ultimately, this split involves the division of the concept of truth itself, with moral truth relegated to the private sphere, out of bounds in the public arena. Pearcey offers thoughts about how to cure the malady of this division, restore the unity of truth, and liberate Christianity from its cultural captivity.
Franklin and Winston, by Jon Meacham. Here is a brilliant character study of the two leaders most responsible for saving the world from the Nazi, fascist, and militaristic evils of the mid-twentieth century, and it is striking in its demonstration of how crucial to the final outcome the personal relationship between the two men became. Meacham focuses heavily on the personal traits of the two leaders and their complicated bonding that forged the alliance that made victory in World War II possible. The treatment is probably necessarily heavily anecdotal, and I would have preferred more analysis of the critical war policy issues and their historical development, but this is a fascinating story of two giant personalities and a serendipitous relationship for which we should be eternally grateful.