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The Dark Side of Liberalism: Unchaining the Truth [Hardcover]

Phil Kent

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Customer Reviews

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Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  17 reviews
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Points Undercut by Lack of Documentation 26 Jun 2003
By Martin Asiner - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This review is one of the more difficult that I have written. For those who like to read about the Left-Democrat versus the Right-Conservative ongoing battle have probably already read other books on this struggle ranging from WHAT LIBERAL MEDIA and BLINDED BY THE RIGHT for the left and BIAS and SLANDER for the right. The best of both viewpoints comes across only when the author does more than deliver personal opinion unbacked by evidence or documentation. With THE DARK SIDE OF LIBERALISM, Phil Kent presents the conservative right on issues that are considered hot button: media bias, public school vouchers, affirmative action, and immigration.
The major problem with this book is its brevity (200 pages). There is simply no way to persuasively refute the counter arguments from the left when author Phil Kent limits his exposure of each topic to some half dozen of pages. Further compounding Kent's difficulties is his belief that his opinions need not be buttressed by any supporting documentation. Ann Coulter in SLANDER added hundreds of footnotes as she discussed issues that overlapped Kent's. Even extreme left-winger Eric Alterman in WHAT LIBERAL MEDIA, a text that is as confused as any that I've read, at least went to the trouble to make his book look as if it had some foundation of support.
What Kent did right was to preface each chapter with the left-wing summary that he calls 'The Liberal Line.' In this micro-summary, he hits the highlights with which most Democrats would probably agree. Then, he spends the rest of the chapter attacking it. What Kent did wrong was to demonize the left as the Dark Side. Such arguments need not be more than just unsubstantiated mudslinging. As an English teacher, I also teach debating techniques. One of the points that I urge my students to follow is to determine whether, during a debate, they wish to take the high road (by sticking to facts and reason) or to take the low road (by engaging in emotional rhetoric). If all they want to do is win, then the former is probably the better tactic. As much as I agree with the majority of Kent's premises, he engaged in too much of that latter for me to recommend his book or to agree that his arguments can stand the tests of time or future reasoned debate.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a good primer for new conservatives 10 May 2003
By Common Sense - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
For starters, i must admit i am more a conservative than i am leftist oriented. most of the non-fiction i read (18-20 per year) relates to politics. and usually the ones i enjoy are written by "right wingers". i especially enjoy those authored by ex-liberals who have grown disenchanted with liberal ideology (or at least how it is being practiced in our day and age). accordingly, i enjoyed this pioneer effort from phil kent. for those considering purchasing it, i recommend it highly if you are looking for a quick read that covers most of the "dark sides" of current liberalism. what i liked most about this book, is its readability and reasonable level of detail. it appears that kent, rather than seeking mind numbing density, chose rather to touch on most of the more interesting areas of the liberal "meltdown" - immigration policies, foreign policy/degradation of our military, deterioration of our educational system, media bias, taxation and spending, etc. don't want to ruin the story for anyone, but his chapter "where do we go from here" is worth the book cost by itself. kent's three pronged plan for resurrecting America is simple and timely: rebuild the American character, return to honoring our heroes as a way to sustain our national heritage, a return to a lawful nation with the judiciary system enforcing law - not making policy. overall a good, if not overly simplified work that will get your mind stimulated. it will make you think about the Democratic (read liberal) party of old, the one with a worthwhile agenda consistent with our traditional ideals and values. hopefully the author's optimism is not misplaced. he believes that we can return to the USA of old. the one known for its character, principles and accent on individualism.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Recitation of Simplistic Conservative Talking Points with No Real Analysis 3 Mar 2010
By C.D. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
For the record, I am a strident conservative, and I agree with many of the author's viewpoints. However, this book's most egregious flaw is its fundamental lack of insight and analysis into key issues. The book takes the format of breaking into chapters common policy issues that are sources of great disputation between the Left and the Right. Each chapter starts off with a recitation of the liberal line and then attempts to refute those commonly repeated claims. Unfortunately, I believe Kent severely dilutes the liberal arguments in order to easily refute them in half a dozen pages: the classic straw man technique. It would have behooved Mr. Kent to properly set up the liberal argument and go into a deep analytical refutation of the liberal arguments. Taking this approach would win him much more converts from open-minded readers. While liberal arguments are invariably invalid, they are sophistically formulated, thus, they take effort to deconstruct and typically cannot be done well in six pages of simplistic prose.

Another critical factor that prevents Kent's book from being taken seriously is the fact that he didn't feel compelled to document any of his points. There is absolutely nothing backing up any of the claims he makes throughout the book. If a writer is to be taken seriously, much less a conservative writer, you have to document every last point you make. As a journalist, this shouldn't be "Breaking News" for Kent.

To add another flaw to the book, I must admit that I found the writing to be so insipid that it made turning the page to be torturous.

This book is good if its intent is to arm new, unknowledgeable conservatives with talking points to debate with liberals; however, if the intent of the book was to engage in an in-depth discussion and refutation of liberal policies and arguments, while cogently and meaningfully articulating the conservative message and its superiority to liberalism, then the book is, fundamentally, a catastrophic failure.

In other words, if your 10-year-old conservative child shows interest in political issues, buy them this book but, I promise you, when they get to age fifteen they'll be looking for something with a little more meat, if you know what I mean.
7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Real mixed-bag mish-mash of editorials 15 May 2004
By Brian Hulett - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The accomplished Mr. Kent has a book here that seems to clearly have been rushed to publication for some reason. While he makes a number of very good points within these pages, the writing is disorganized and herky-jerky, sometimes hard to put down and sometimes hard to pick up. I am a conservative and have certainly noted the dark side of liberalism, but in a few places Mr. Kent really has to stretch a point to get this across, which will win him no allies.
Fortunately, there is enough meat here to provide solid reasoning and solid evidence that the mean-spirited liberal elite in the U.S. have gotten out of control and, unfortunately, have indeed infiltrated our politics to the point that the American Communist party platforms of pre WWII look alarmingly similar to the liberal platform of our day.
As with any such publication, one must read with a critical eye to find what parts of this soup one can take away as one's own, and let the rest simmer until forgotten. Certainly worth a read, but doesn't make me stand and salute as often as I'd like.
5.0 out of 5 stars Pithy and right on target 12 Aug 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Phil Kent's legal mind is brilliantly at work in his dissection of the dark side of liberalism. There are certainly good people out there who happen to be liberal. Kent's book, however, focuses on the inherent problems with liberal beliefs. It is a good read and will confirm many people's beliefs on what is wrong with the left wing of the Democratic Party.
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