I have received a copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
The biggest alarm-bell I have read all year. The advance of "soft" totalitarianism via identity politics has been in my awareness for a while, but this little book outlines the specific similarities to the historical progress of both communist and capitalist totalitarianism. The best defense or offense we have, the author posits, is to not allow them to control the narrative. If you see something you know to be a lie, do not bow your head to it. Stick together with other dissenters, communicate in face-to-face meetings.
I really enjoyed this book and thought it was both useful and encouraging. The positive reviews I heard were not exaggerated! I am however, taking a smidgeon of a star off for some grammatical errors, of the type easily missed by tired eyes and a spell-check.
Fantastic! I'm so glad I got to read this at last!
Tough but necessary read for all Americans. Being aware of what is happening now and how history is repeating itself. Learning, watching and raising awareness is important.
Interesting and thought provoking book.
A must read for Christians worried about the direction our world is headed.
A book full of sobering but encouraging stories.
An important read to help you remember to learn from the past, so as not to repeat it.
An author who chooses to write about political philosophy or social ethics in the polemical times we live in is certainly brave. But Dreher reminds us that because of how contentious our times are such a book as this is most necessary.
Where the claim that America is in danger of soft totalitarianism can easily cause some to write this book off as mere conservative propaganda, 'Live Not by Lies' is anything but. Dreher does not blindly align himself to any particular political party. He takes shots on both sides, carefully and critically analyzing patterns seen in the primary centers of power in the US: Media, Corporations, Government, and culture and draws parallelism with what has been seen in places such as Soviet Russia and China.
His arguments from his observations are compelling and his recommendations to how Christians can respond to the shifting tides will ultimately help the church remain balanced in the changing nation where she lives.
"Live Not By Lies" by Rod Dreher is a thought-provoking and timely exploration of the rise of what the author calls "soft totalitarianism" in contemporary Western society. Drawing on the experiences of dissidents who lived under communist regimes in Eastern Europe, Dreher argues that a new form of oppressive control is emerging, driven by ideological conformity and the erosion of personal liberties.
Dreher's writing is passionate and engaging, as he weaves together personal anecdotes, historical analysis, and interviews with those who have faced totalitarianism firsthand. He draws parallels between the tactics used by oppressive regimes of the past and the growing pressures on individuals to conform to a new cultural orthodoxy.
This book is a compelling and eye-opening read for anyone concerned about the state of individual freedom and the future of Western society. It challenges us to reflect on our own values and the importance of defending truth in the face of ideological pressures.
One of thee most important books written today.
Dreher has a knack for writing with such strength and vigor that one can't help but feel fire grow in their bones. I will read and reread this amazing book.
This was so eye opening to read. I have listened to Dreher on interviews and find his points very compelling. I will have my children read this book when they are of age. It’s a book more people need to read. It’s a reminder of a past and a warning for the present.
About six months after the world was plunged into lockdowns by the virus which we don’t like to talk about, I was talking to my sister on the phone. She told me about a book they had just read, possibly with their church or maybe small group within their church—I don’t remember—and she highly recommended it to me, as well. Live Not By Lies sounded very interesting and helpful, given the world situation, but because postage costs are so high and it was not available in a digital format at the time, I didn’t pursue getting a copy. A couple of years later, my husband heard about the same book in a podcast and wanted to read it, so I looked for it again. Still no way to get it digitally. Then, a week or two after that, I saw a hardcover copy advertised in a local buy/sell group. I snatched it up! One of my teenage sons read the book and told me I should… and finally I have read it. Wow. There is so much in this book, I’m sure I won’t retain more than a fraction of the information and ideas. It was well worth reading, though, and I’m sure I will be referring back to it later.
Rod Dreher began thinking about the issues he discusses in this book in 2015 when a man told him that his mother, a Czech immigrant to the United States, had told him that she was seeing the same progression that, in Czechoslovakia, had led to Communist totalitarianism. Rod began talking to more people and doing more research, which is presented here. Part One of this book, “Understanding Soft Totalitarianism,” describes what is happening in our world today as those who are promoting the progressive “diversity and inclusion” creed take control of government, media, and business. He describes the similarities and differences between this soft totalitarianism and the harsh totalitarian governments of the Communist countries of Europe during the years between 1917 and 1989.
In Part Two, “How to Live in Truth,” Rod describes what people did to resist being consumed by Communist ideology, and how they supported others and kept the truth alive. One family’s experiences especially stood out to me, the Benda family in Czechoslovakia whose six children all remained in the Catholic faith when almost everyone around them gave up their faith altogether. Their story is really inspiring. Some points that stood out to me included not avoiding suffering; not falling for the line of thinking prevalent today that the ultimate goal is my happiness and comfort. Another point that I know I will remember is the importance of never agreeing with or promoting a lie in any way—in our culture today, meaning this year, that will mostly have to do with things having to do with the “rainbow community.” Next year, of course, there may be some other issue.
I’ll be mulling over Live Not By Lies for a long time. There is so much packed into this book that I can’t possibly remember it all, and may have to refer back to it from time to time. Every Christian who doesn’t want to live with his or her eyes shut to what is happening around us should read this book.
WARNING: Several times, horrific tortures used by the Communists are described.
This review will appear on www.ignitelit.com in several months.
This a very interesting premise for Christians to consider, but also for anyone who believes in the theory that much can be learned from History. The stories told were fascinating and capture the real experience (and dangers) of those who came from communist Russia. This book certainly made me think and examine current events in a new light.
Wow, this is one of my favorite books of 2022! I encourage all Christians to read this book! I agree with Dreher, very difficult times are coming for believers and they are coming sooner than we think and we must be prepared! This book had great information that is very applicable no matter where you are in life. It was also so sad to hear from those who have dealt with theses issues in their countries and are now seeing the same thing happening in our country today! I also really love how Dreher explains how the totalitarianism we are facing today is based less on overt violence and more on psychological manipulation. Highly, highly recommend this read. It is definitely a book you will annotate.
While I did not agree with everything Dreher talked about in the book, it was an eye opener to see some of the similarities between our time today and to the formation of the Soviet Union years ago. He did a good job in taking an honest look at the current cultural and social conditions in America today. I was not aware of some of the things he mentioned and was thankful for his pointing them out. I think some of his points were fear mongering and that we can have a more nuanced understanding of the things happening around us as followers of Jesus because of the hope we have in heaven. But overall, I was edified by the book and thankful for the chance to read it.
I received an advance copy from NetGalley for my review.
This book is fantastic and reminds us that terrible things didn't just happen hundred of years ago in the far off past. I highlighted and underlined so much if this book.
Live Not By Lies should be read by every Christian church in America. I’m not super political in my reading - I never read political books if I can help it - but I highly recommend it to others like myself who wouldn’t normally go out of their way to read a book on soft totalitarianism.
I just read Brave New World by Aldous Huxley last week, which is mentioned multiple times throughout Live Not By Lies. The last chapter of Live Not By Lies also mentioned suffering, and I read Suffering Is Never For Nothing by Elisabeth Elliot just yesterday. I would recommend reading these three books together.
I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for a review and opinions are my own.
one of the best books ever, live not by lies by Rod Dreher is a book against totalitarianism and violence in the world .
When Totalitarian persecutions against Christians finally arrive in the West, how will you as a Christian respond and have your faith still survive? This book explores this question with a journalistic study of how those who are religious survive with their faith in Communist Eastern Europe during the days of the Cold War with lessons learned that’s important for Christians in the West to learn about. Before you think this book is irrelevant and conspiracy theory the author argues that there’s a rise in the West of softer form of Totalitarianism than past secular tyranny like Marxists states but still there’s a rise of society marginalizing, canceling and attacking conservative Christians with historic and biblical moral values and ethics. For these reasons this book became one of the important talked about book in 2020 and relevant in a post-2020 world.
The book consists of ten chapters arranged in two parts. Part One, with chapters one through four, is titled “Understanding Soft Totalitarianism” and part two is titled “How to live in Truth” which consists of chapters five through ten. The first part is a social and cultural look at what’s going on today while part two is more practical with pointers and principles but also stories for inspiration to persevere.
In part one of the book I thought this book was quite insightful with the author’s analysis of the progressive leftist movement and how “woke” doctrines have tyrannical characteristics. This might go against the grain of many who think its only the right with authoritarian tendencies. I thought chapter three which how progressivism is a religion (or like a religion) was very compelling. In particular I appreciated the author pointing out how the progressive’s belief in the “Grand March” which is the idea that progress is inevitable for humanity, has not only enabled but justifies oppression such as elimination of the opposition and slandering the other side in the most negative and uncharitable light. To be fair the author notes that this idea of progress is so pervasive even Republicans believe it; moreover there is a Christian form of this, but the secularized form of it has bastardized this idea of progress with an over-realized eschatology. Progressivism is contrasted with classical liberalism that is more concerned about individual freedom and the move away from that is concerning.
I thought part two as a manual or practical guide was also good. When things get more tyrannical against Christians and there’s more from society and corporations pushing against Christianity here the author noted the importance of a strong religious family and also Christian small groups. Love is also important in the midst of all of this, where its not just study groups (that’s important) but also embracing of fellow believers but also others as an outreach.
Overall I did enjoy the book’s analysis of our society and culture. Nevertheless I am concern if he’s confused capitalism with corporatism (with state and government enablement or worst: corporation acting like the government). Still he’s right about the problem in the West with materialism can easily make it harder for Christians today to identify tyranny and oppression. I also thought the principles of how to survive as Christians has a lot of good advice However I am concern with the author’s theology that’s notable with whom he include in the book; the author is quite ecumenical and I am concern with the importance of Gospel clarity and Gospel faithfulness. The Gospel is important given eternity is at stake. Also I thought for a book for Christians it was strange that there’s not really any verses or passages that was mentioned and things that were theological was pretty light in the book. I think when we see 1 Peter which was written to persecute Christians we see that doctrines and the Gospel matter in encouraging believers to “live not by lies.” Yet I don’t know of any sound Protestant that has written something similar to this book, in the vein of a manual for Christians going underground due to oppression. There ought to be one that’s written. So I struggle with what rating I should give the book. I don’t recommend the author’s theology (and therefore won’t recommend this to young Christians). But the practical wisdom is helpful. On the basis of the book’s analysis of culture and wise principles to consider while also being somewhat unique I give this a four out of five. Theologically I think it’s a fail.
NOTE: This book was provided to me free by Sentinel and Net Galley without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.
This was an excellent book. Reading about heroes of the faith who stood up for their beliefs and didn't bow to totalitarianism was incredibly inspiring. Additionally, the fact that the West is engaging in soft totalitarianism isn't a shock to those of us who are experiencing it, but it does give one a bit of a start to hear survivors of the totalitarian regime saying that what's happening in the West looks familiar. This book is a must-read not only to expose yourself to the history of those brave souls who stood firm in their faith in the face of totalitarianism, but also to serve as a wake-up call for the Western church.
EDITED TO ADD: I have posted my review on Amazon, but it is not published yet. I will post the link as soon as it's published.
(For some reason Amazon is not letting me post a review for this book, but I will be sure to post one when I am able.)
In this well-researched book Rod Dreher introduces us to people who stood for religious freedom in the midst of severe repression (and oppression), mostly in Eastern Europe. Drawing from the personal accounts of Catholic priests and church members, Dreher enlightens the reader about the true nature of communist government. Many of these accounts come from those who lived during the dark years, or from their families and acquaintances. Most striking is the steadfast faith of these unsung heroes, and their commitment to standing firm on the principles in which they believed, to the point of civil disobedience, persecution, and imprisonment. Even if you do not subscribe to the religious beliefs held by these people, read the book to gain un understanding of what we in the United States stand to suffer if we don’t learn from the past.
I was provided an ARC in exchange for my honest review. That said, I will also report that after reading this I purchased the hardback book to add to my library. It’s that good.
Recommended by my pastor, I wasn’t sure how I would get on with this book. The first half gives historical background, far past and near past. The second half gives more practical application for today’s soft totalitarianism with examples from the past.
While I was generally aware of the content regarding the far past including conditions in the Soviet Union, this overview served as a good refresher. The near past section was a bit dull for me because I had lived through the events described with one foot in internet culture and one foot out of it. For the next generation or someone who has never immersed themselves in our current internet culture, this content will be a good overview.
Reading and reviewing this book over a year after it was published has given me perspective. Are the totalitarian signs discussed in this book accurate, overly dramatic, or even understated for our time? One year later I can say, Rod Dreher is right on the money. My family has employed many of the tips for living in truth already. Reading this book now has been very encouraging as we continue to do so. It served to strengthen my convictions to see this through for Christ rather than my own happiness.
Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin Group for providing this ebook for review.
Live Not By Lies is a terrifying book but also so encouraging. Ever since high school I’ve been drawn to the stories of the men and women who lived through WWII, particularly in occupied Europe, and opposed and suffered under the Nazis. Now maybe I know better why I am so drawn to them.
I appreciated how the author points out problems with all sides of the American political process and really doesn’t get into finger pointing much at all. He’s not so concerned with who is doing things so much as that the things are happening.
At times I feel like he sees so clearly and other times I think he seems rather naive. He says something about it not being likely that pastors will be jailed here but it’s happening in Canada so why not here? The one thing I think could have been done better is distinguishing between classics liberalism and the liberalism of today. They are quite different and that difference was not made clear in some cases, leading to some confusion.
I think what is so remarkable about this book is that it’s not just the author giving his opinion. He’s letting you meet many others who saw and lived through this before and are telling us, “look out! It’s coming here!” Do we believe they are lying to is? What would they have to gain by lying?
I’m very glad I got the chance to read this book and I definitely need to read it again soon. Many thanks to NetGalley for a copy. All opinions are my own and a favorable review was not required.
I was frustrated as I read this book. I had hoped to read a historical account of courageous people of faith and appreciated the sections of the book that did recount the stories of those whose courage cost them much. The book frustrated and fell flat for me when it made thinly-defended connections to the present day or demonstrated an extreme disregard for those who fall outside the author's own political convictions.