New in Print: Who Really Cares: America's Charity Divide. Who Gives, Who Doesn't, and Why It Matters
By Arthur C. Brooks
(Basic, 250 pages, $26)

Bosque Boys favorite Wilfred M. McClay offers a very fine review of the book in today's Wall Street Journal.

McClay writes:

"If Mr. Brooks is right, our era's common sense of the matter -- that the political left is more compassionate than the political right, and that America is a remarkably ungenerous nation by world standards -- is demonstrably inaccurate. In fact, Sen. John Edwards's repeated claim that there are "two Americas" turns out to be correct but misstated: The line of separation runs most saliently not between the haves and have-nots but between the gives and the give-nots, between those Americans who respond to social needs with their own money and time and those who do not."

"The correlations are strong and unmistakable. For example, people who attend houses of worship regularly are 25% more likely to give and 23% more likely to volunteer, and the religious give away four times the amounts of money that the secular do. Working families without welfare support give three times as much to charity as do welfare families with the same total income. Conservative households give 30% more to charity than liberal households. Redistributionist liberals give about a fourth of what redistributionist skeptics give. And perhaps most interesting of all, in states in which George W. Bush got more than 60% of the 2004 vote, charitable giving averaged 3.5% of income, as compared with states in which Mr. Bush got less than 40% of the vote, in which the giving averaged a mere 1.9% of income. So much for the idea that red states are red in tooth and claw."

I agree with McClay's articulate backhand to sociology as a discipline: "The social sciences even at their best do nothing but restate the obvious in obscure language." However, he heartily recommends this effort as a "lucidly written, carefully distilled and persuasively cogent work, a tidy time-bomb of a book whose findings will, if they are taken to heart, transform much of what we thought we knew about charity and the social good in America...."

We'll see. If nothing else, we can expect a needed conversation and perhaps reevaluation of some hackneyed negative stereotypes regarding conservatives.

Bill McClay's review online in full here (registration may be required).