From Publishers Weekly
Shore, director of the antipoverty organization Share Our Strength and philanthropic consultant, has previously written about social entrepreneurs who introduce capital-generating techniques to the nonprofit sector (The Cathedral Within). Here he offers a variant on the concept in the form of moral entrepreneurs, people who "do what it takes to bring morality to places where it hasn't been before." Offering several prominent examples, he observes that such people often do the most through the simplest of actions, like the gesture of friendship Pee Wee Reese offered Jackie Robinson in front of racist baseball fans and teammates. Each of us is likewise capable of following our conscience, he claims, using his son to demonstrate the principle. After a strong early emphasis on the boy's flair for "obfuscation and deception," a proud father recounts his son's attendance at a rally shortly after 9/11. That tragedy underscores Shore's belief that we can no longer afford to focus solely on our immediate surroundings, but must strive to raise the quality of life throughout the world; injustice allowed to fester elsewhere, he warns, will eventually play out to our own detriment. Readers will likely perceive an intuitive validity to his suggestion that the major news coverage of recent scandals involving corporate fraud and sexual abuse by priests is "directly related" to 9/11, because our reaction immediately after "spawned a new premium on conscientious and ethical conduct." The theory might not hold up to scrutiny, but this and other doubts about the book's grasp on the big picture are abated by Shore's sincere passion and attention to the small details that make life worth living.
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From its title, readers might expect this to be one of those you-can-do-it books full of inspirational blithering. Thankfully, it is not. It is an enlightening, thought-provoking, entertaining book with the simplest of premises: when confronted with a choice, we should always choose the right thing. The book is a collection of anecdotes and profiles illustrating the benefits of making the right choice--performing an act of conscience, to use the author's terminology. Shore, founder of Share our Strength (which raises money to fight hunger and poverty), writes about men and women in positions of responsibility who, faced with a tough decision, found the right thing to do, not just the easiest thing; in the details of his examples, the depth of his seemingly simple premise emerges. Unlike the slick preachings of various high-profile warriors for morality, Shore's writing is straightforward, unpretentious, and nonjudgmental. The book's opening section, in which the author relates stories about his own children's battles with their consciences, is by far the highlight, but the whole book is surprisingly perceptive. David PittCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved