Saturday, March 12, 2011

Book Review: The Family

On the journey up to my Alma Mater, I (finally) finished readying The Family, Jeff Sharlet's investigative piece into a secretive, elite Christian organization that operates in Washington and all over the world.

Sharlet's writing style has a very personal quality-- almost as though you are sitting in his living room while he recounts the story to you himself. It is easy to believe that he would have gotten some of the access he did because he has a manner of self-presentation that makes the listener believe he is an open book, even though that probably is not the whole story. I think the one flaw of the book may be the long sections on the history of the family and different important members.

It is clear that Sharlet did his research-- down to the personal appearance of each one of the historical figures he describes-- but there is a little less of Sharlet's voice in these sections and they end up dragging more than the text from the present day. However, he did make some fascinating connections. My personal favorite was that the Charles Colson of the Watergate scandal (which I researched so extensively in eighth grade American history) is the same Charles Colson who is now a part of the Family and a leader in the Evangelical Christian movement. I was shocked.

I highly recommend the book. It provides an interesting and unusual insight into the American Evangelical movement and it's history. Were one to read it in more concentrated chunks than I did, it would be a quick read.
The Family
He recently followed this with a book called C Street, which is the name of the house run by the Family where many congressmen live while they are in Washington. I have put it on my list of things to read.

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