2013 Logos Book of the Year in Christianity/Culture
“If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.” - Abraham Lincoln
Nothing is more daring in the American experiment than the founders’ belief that the American republic could remain free forever. But how was this to be done, and are Americans doing it today?
It is not enough for freedom to be won. It must also be sustained. Cultural observer Os Guinness argues that the American experiment in freedom is at risk. Summoning historical evidence on how democracies evolve, Guinness shows that contemporary views of freedom—most typically, a negative freedom from constraint—are unsustainable because they undermine the conditions necessary for freedom to thrive. He calls us to reconsider the audacity of sustainable freedom and what it would take to restore it.
“In the end,” Guinness writes, “the ultimate threat to the American republic will be Americans. The problem is not wolves at the door but termites in the floor.” The future of the republic depends on whether Americans will rise to the challenge of living up to America’s unfulfilled potential for freedom, both for itself and for the world.
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Os Guinness enlightens, cheers, chastises and informs with this latest contribution to our civic discourse. Guinness here solidifies his reputation as one of the most nimble voices from the Christian community as he surveys our history and our present with appreciation as well as deep concern. Highly recommended for all interested citizens, whatever their political or faith commitments.
—Jean Bethke Elshtain, Laura Spelman Rockefeller Professor of Social and Political Ethics at the University of Chicago, author of Sovereignty: God, State and Self
A Free People’s Suicide is an inside view from the outside. Os Guinness has a clear eye, a quick mind, a profound grasp of political philosophy and an eloquent pen. His analysis of American freedom, what it has been, now is and is likely to become, is a clarion call for renewal of the founders’ vision for a free people.
—James W. Sire, author of The Universe Next Door and Václav Havel: The Intellectual Conscience of International Politics
Sometimes a book is so important and so timely that not to have read it is to embarrass oneself. This is such a book. Its message is so crucial and so clear that all Americans are obligated to read it and have a national conversation on its themes. No cultural commentator or politician who has not read this book should ever be taken seriously again. Let this book be the new litmus test. If you are serious about America, be familiar with its themes and expect to discuss them and to be tested on them. Rest assured that you will be, because America is now herself being tested on them. Alas, we will not be graded on a curve. This book’s clarion call is both piercing and full of hope. May God help us to hear it and to take action.
—Eric Metaxas, author of Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy and Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery
Os Guinness is a philosopher, social critic, and the author of many books, including Time for Truth, The Call, and Long Journey Home. He was born in China, educated in England, and has worked in the Washington, DC area for more than 25 years. He has been a freelance reporter for the BBC, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution, and a guest scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Studies. In 1991, Dr. Guinness founded the Trinity Forum, which hosts discussions with senior leaders in business and politics. He speaks widely at universities and business and political conferences around the world.