Book Review: America Alone

Mark Steyn’s America Alone will amuse you. It will sober you. It will disturb you. But most of all, it will challenge you to look at Islam and its relation to the world in a completely different light. Conservative political commentator Michele Malkin summed it up well when she remarked, “Mark Steyn is a human sandblaster. [America Alone] provides a powerful, abrasive, high-velocity assault on encrusted layers of sugarcoating and whitewash over the threat of Islamic imperialism.”

Because Islam is a threat – a most emphatically serious threat. The future, as Steyn brilliantly shows throughout his book, belongs to the fecund and confident. Islam is both, while the West is looking ever more like the ruins of civilization.

Someday soon, you might very well be awakened by the call to prayer from a muezzin. People in Europe already are. And liberals will continue to tell you that “diversity is our strength” – while enforcers from the Taliban cruise Greenwich Village, burning books and barber shops; and the Supreme Court decides that sharia law doesn’t really violate the “separation of church and state”; and the Hollywood Left decides to stop pursuing “gay rights” in favor of the much safer charms of polygamy.

If you don’t think that can happen… think again. You haven’t been paying attention.

Throughout the course of his book, Mark Steyn addresses this Islamic threat and challenges readers to take it seriously. In fact, he manages to cover quite a bit of ground in just a few hundred pages. The key factors which he deals with, however, are 1. demographic decline, 2. the unsustainability of the advanced Western social-democratic state, and 3. civilizational exhaustion. And he does it all with confidence, wit, and a liberal dose of humor.

One of my favorite passages in the book is on page 200, where Steyn brilliantly sums up the delusional way that the Western world views Islam:

Bomb us, and we agonize over the ‘root causes’. Decapitate us, and our politicians rush to the nearest mosque to declare that ‘Islam is a religion of peace’. Issue blood-curdling calls at Friday prayers to kill all the Jews and infidels, and we fret that it may cause a backlash against Muslims. Behead sodomites and mutilate female genitalia, and gay groups and feminist groups can’t wait to march alongside you denouncing Bush and Blair. Murder a schoolful of children, and our scholars explain that to the ‘vast majority’ of Muslims ‘jihad’ is a harmless concept meaning ‘healthy-lifestyle lo-fat granola bar’. Thus the lopsided valse macabre of our times: the more Islamists step on our toes, the more we waltz them gaily around the room.

That’s denial. Serious denial. And it can only lead to one thing: ruin. As philosopher Jean-Francois Revel wrote, “Clearly, a civilization that feels guilty for everything it is and does will lack the energy and conviction to defend itself.”

Steyn believes that America can survive, prosper, and defend its freedom only if it continues to believe in itself, in the sturdier virtues of self-reliance (not government), in the centrality of the family, and in the conviction that our country really is the world’s last best hope. However, I would add that putting God back where He belongs in our hearts and minds is the real starting step. He is the Beginning and the End, and if He is not put first, all other measures, however good in and of themselves, will fail.

As Christians, we must also remember that God is wholly sovereign. Nothing is outside of His control. As the Heidelberg Catechism puts it, “… all creatures are so in His hand that without His will they cannot so much as move.” We are to live and look at the world in light of this fact. However, this does not mean that we are to turn a blind eye to the danger that is seething around us. We are to be watchful and aware. And reading this book will help you be more fully conscious of the threat that Islam poses.

I will add that this book is not for readers under 16. The themes that Steyn deals with are very mature, and there is some strong and crude language scattered throughout.

If you’re looking for something to read on current events, then definitely pick this one. It’s laugh-out-loud funny while simultaneously giving you a sobering new look at the world around you.

One thought on “Book Review: America Alone”

  1. This was a fabulous review of the book! It sounds like a great read–one that I should find time for amidst my various other college reads. Was this one on your list of books that you wanted to read over the course of the year, or just one that you decided to read? Either way, it looks like a very influential/informational book. keep up the wonderful posts!

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