By Barbara Falconer Newhall
Great news. “Wrestling with God” has won yet another honor. This time the recognition comes from the Eric Hoffer Book Award, which has named WWG a finalist in its international competition recognizing books from small, academic, and independent presses.
The awards honor the American working class philosopher Eric Hoffer, whose seminal book, “The True Believer,” dropped into the American intellectual scene with a splash in 1951. It was must reading for people of my generation, and maybe it ought to be must-reading in this 2016 election year.
Eric Hoffer and the True Believer
Hoffer — a longshoreman and proudly working class — asserted that fanatical movements, religious, political or otherwise, emerge when large segments of the population feel themselves to be marginalized. People whose way of life and self-esteem are threatened are drawn — often passionately and irrationally — to a larger group that promises radical change. For Hoffer, communism and fascism were interchangeable; the rhetoric differed, but the underlying human psychological need for the reassurance of belonging to a powerful, idealistic movement was the same.
When I lived in Germany and traveled to the Soviet Union after college, I interpreted the early 20th-century history of Germany and the Soviet Union through Hoffer’s True Believer lens. Today, his ideas shed helpful light on the ISIS phenomenon.
I’m honored to be named a finalist in a competition with Eric Hoffer’s name on it.