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Hate or Be Hated: How I Survived Right-Wing Extremism is not a boring book, nor is it one that should be missed. J. Daniels effectively relates his story of growing up with a father who was an extremist and member of the John Birch Society who saw conspiracy at every turn. Although his mother was present, she never challenged her husband – a victim of PTSD.
Daniel’s powerful message and experience gives his listeners a bird's eye view of how people become brainwashed, the terrible truths behind the John Birch Society and more. His willingness at a young age to be a willing killer or bomber for the love of his country and the beliefs promoted by the John Birch Society is telling. While there is some humor, it is dark but necessary. The influences of his parents and other adults within his small world is amazing to ponder. One does not have to do much cajoling when given a young mind to mold … this is what happened to Daniels until he realized the truth and saw his life for what it truly was under his father’s rule. His words and stories tell you how NOT to raise a child and what NOT to expect from your parents who are extremist period.
This is a difficult book because the listener can hear how easy it is to brainwash someone; the role of the media, adults and more. Daniels demonstrates how easily children can be isolated and convinced, how easily they can be manipulated to becoming killers and continuing the uneducated life of their parents or friends and how dangerous a lack of education can be.
At one point, when Daniels talks about being older and how much he wanted to confront his parents, I wanted to tell him to get over it. His parents perpetuated what they had been taught for years and years. Fortunately, Daniels was able to break through the cycle and end it. It takes a strong person and opportunity to break the cycle of violence and extremism. I wanted to tell him, it wouldn’t change anything whether his mother or father realized what they had done – there was no going back; nothing was going to change. This was my one point of contention with the book.
It was difficult listening to the passion of the narrator as he reiterated the experiences and beliefs. Regardless of where you are, what your political views may be or your economic status – this is a book you should hear. The message is timely and alternates between shocking you and making you cry.
Although the narrator is not credited, I want to say he did a powerful job. One could hear the passion and his buying into the beliefs and then his change of heart/mind. His voice was calming yet moving.
There were no issues with the production quality of this book.
Audiobook was provided for review by the publisher.
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