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A Free People's Suicide: Sustainable Freedom and the American Future

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  329 ratings  ·  68 reviews
2013 Logos Book of the Year in Christianity/Culture"If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide." Abraham Lincoln Nothing is more daring in the American experiment than the founders' belief that the American republic could remain free forever. But how was this to be done, ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published July 10th 2012 by IVP Books (first published June 11th 2012)
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Brian Watson
Jul 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Honestly, I was hoping this book would be a little better, but, as it is, it's a very important book. Guinness says that Americans are in danger of losing freedom because they don't understand what freedom really is. Freedom is not being able to do whatever you want. Freedom is being able to do what you ought to do. Real freedom is ordered. And the only restraint that doesn't defeat freedom is self-restraint. The Founders realized this. They knew that the Constitution was not enough. No, people ...more
Apr 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book challenged me. It challenged me to think about our role in the world, to question our dealings with other nations, and to live in a way that will sustain freedom rather than being a part of its demise. I appreciate the "outsider's" view of America and what we need to do to improve our reputation in the world. As I was reading I truly felt sorrow over many things that we have not only allowed to happen but at times supported the wrong decisions.

This book also encouraged me. It
David Wright
Jan 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
One of the most timely books on the current state of American freedom. Guinness takes a look at the freedom that the founders of America intended, one that they believed could be sustained. There are a few key points made throughout the book on the freedom America was built on based on what the founders intended, and ways that we have strayed from that vision to get to where we are now.

First, Guinness discusses the current view of freedom in America. He defines freedom today as a negative
Jun 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Well-researched and thoughtful treatise. Hypothesizing that a nation of laws is but one facet of what the founders had in mind, Guinness puts together observations of the moral mind-set that was present in the diverse gathering of men who first achieved freedom through the revolution, then ordered freedom through the establishment of the constitution and its tri-partite government. The sustainability of freedom is the sticking point, and he brings detailed discussion on how that might (or might ...more
John Sagherian
I just finished Os Guinness, A Free Peoples Suicide (I had read half of it 2 years ago!) Well written, well thought out, informative, at times encouraging and yet, challenging; Os Guinness is a keen observer and an articulate writer. Anyone interested in democracy, and in particularly American democracy, and concerned about where its all heading, should read this book. ...more
Curby Graham
Dec 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Outstanding work by Guinness as usual. Great way to finish of my reading year. I would recommend this to individuals of all political stripes. The author has some very thoughtful and sobering challenges to both sides of the political aisle.
Mar 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Awesome read. Although its thesis and themes are important and worthy of scholarly debate, this book is written to every American. It is approachable, easy to read, and it should prompt more study and thought.

Eric Metaxas, in his blurb, was right. Everyone should read this book, understand its themes, and be prepared to discuss them and be tested on them.
Paul Gosselin
Oct 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
A little less hard-hitting than Dust of Death (1973), but interesting nonetheless. But here's the thing. Due to this generation of Americans entitlement (the USA will always remain dominant), a critique like A Free People's Suicide will likely be quickly swept under the rug and ignored by most as "too negative". But things CAN change...
Jun 14, 2012 rated it it was ok
I won a free copy through First Reads. Please note that all quotes and page references are in regards to the ARC and not the final, published edition.

To be completely honest, I was not able to read every single page of this book. I read it over quite a few months and it was a struggle to get through 5 pages at a time. I think Os Guinness had a good idea when he set out to write this. I appreciated the outsiders view of my country. I did, in fact, agree with a lot of his sentiments regarding how
Aug 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
We Americans love to talk about freedom.

We call ourselves the land of the free; our Declaration of Independence talks about liberty as an inalienable right; there are still few things that can get an American riled up like the threat of a loss of freedom.

But our freedom is in jeopardy, says Os Guinness in his new book, A Free Peoples Suicide: Sustainable Freedom and the American Future. Guinness doesnt find the primary threat to our freedom in an external source, like another nation, or even big
George P.
Jan 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
At the close of the Constitutional Convention in 1787, a woman asked Benjamin Franklin, Well, Doctor, what have we gota Republic or a Monarchy? To which Franklin replied: A Republic, if you can keep it.[1] That question and Franklins reply cut to the heart of Os Guinnesss new book, A Free Peoples Suicide.

According to Guinness, any society that wishes to be free must accomplish three tasks: win its freedom, order is freedom, and sustain its freedom. Americans commemorate the winning of our
Aaron Bergeson
Oct 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: politics, history
I read this in 2020, 7 years after publication. This experience was not unlike being in a groggy half-asleep state turning on an ice-cold shower: A sudden wake-up call. Like Alexis de Tocqueville, Os Guinness provides the observations of an outsider who marvels at the U.S. for her history and cultural legacy, but does not shy away from offering criticism of her blind spots. Will she follow the fate of every empire that has risen and fallen before? Will freedom be her greatest strength or ...more
Nikolas Larum
Nov 27, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: american-history
I must admit that I immediately took umbrage at Guinness's finger waving at America. I usually enjoy Os Guinness and he makes a fair amount of fine points. Perhaps I am guilty of the very American short-sightedness that he accuses us of. But despite his continual pronouncement of admiration for the American model, there is the persistent tone of a European patristically calling the US a bully on the international stage.

Though he doesn't state it in so many words, he implies that for us to be
Shirley Conley
Oct 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
4 *s for its main theme to bring faith back to America the only way to sustain freedom. 2* because it is so hard to understand and get through.
Get ready to spend a lot of time with your dictionary or computer. This book is 207 page and took me 33 days to read! You will encounter words, that I would venture to say, will challenge your vocabulary. (i.e. prosaic, hegemonic, virulent, sclerotic, caliphate, lots of isms, xenophobic, patrimony, solipsism, promethean and on and on.)
Lots of great
Apr 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is (in my opinion) an incredibly important book insofar as it takes a critical look at where we are in America today. Published in 2012, it was written prior to the election of Donald Trump as President and all the subsequent rancor that has taken place since then. I can only wonder if his (Guinness) optimism about the future of America would still hold in light of current circumstances. The thread that runs throughout this book is the golden triangle of freedom which consists of virtue, ...more
Joseph Crampton
Sep 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book, like most everything by Os Guinness, is brilliant! It was so much more than an essay or a few ideas about liberty; it was a clarion call to action. In an age when secular progressives seem to hate the founding generationsthey see only racist, xenophobic slave owners, rather than visionary and daring political philosophers it is good to see a call to return to the fountain.
But this book is no reactionary tripe. There is both hope and clarity, as well as vision and a call to action.

Jul 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This should be required reading. Guiness is spot on in his assessment of what ails America, what will potentially doom us and how we can fix it. As this book was written a few years ago, it is even more eerie to see how much farther we have slipped as a nation to a point where we may not be able to come back. The other thing I would point out, before one side of the political spectrum gets too smug about it, he points the required blame in more than one direction. Everybody should read this ...more
Damon Hawkins
Apr 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Wow! What an amazing book. I'd like to know the author's updated opinions today since this book is now 8 years old. Os Guiness is obviously a very learned man and the text assumes the reader will be well versed in the history of liberty. Embarrassingly, I admit I had to pause many times and research citations and other information to fully understand some points made. I agree with the general assessment about the direction our country and society is heading. I'd like to see a publication with ...more
Marty Taylor
Sep 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Found this a very interesting and timely read - even though it was written several years ago, it still applies. As difficult as some of it was to hear (or read), I found myself in agreement with his thesis and supporting points. I think it would be worthwhile reading for anyone interested in social / cultural issues, history and theology.
Sep 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Joelle Reads Her Bookcase #52

I was completely prepared to loathe this book, but I finished it oddly surprised with how much I could agree with it. I realize some of his other books are problematic, and I have not read them - which, honestly, is why I thought I would have such an issue with this one - but he manages to strike a neutral tone and prove his point.
Barry Ickes
Jul 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very few authors are capable of saying so much is so few words, Os Guinness is definitely one of them. And very few thinkers are as clear and salient as he in addressing the root cause of the moral decline in our nation. A truly free people requires a virtuous people.
Ross Hougham
Oct 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of the most prescient books I've read on the freedom and the evolution of the American idea. This is a gut check for every American who believes we are immune from the lessons of history.
James Larsen
Mar 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book! Challenging and insightful engagement with the U.S.'s progress and challenges to sustained freedom.
Aug 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Quite prophetic for everything happening now as a result of the choices we have made as a country.
Oct 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audible
Profound. I appreciated the clarification about what freedom actually is and how one can confuse freedom with choice. Guinness defines freedom not as the ability to do whatever you want, but as the ability to do what you SHOULD DO.
The distinction between negative and positive freedom (freedom FROM and freedom FOR) and their distortions were helpful as well.
The comparisons with Rome remind of Schaffer's "How shall we then live".
Jun 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Guinness contends that great powers basically destroy themselves from within before they ever fall to external enemies. I write this on the day our government has shut down because our leaders cannot even agree to fund the obligations into which they've entered. Guinness's book seems prophetic and especially relevant today.

He argues that freedom has been the fundamental and driving idea of the American experiment. But freedom has two aspects, freedom from and freedom for. His concern is that our
Nov 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
In this book, the author argues that America is founded upon the idea of "sustainable freedom," that is, a freedom where Americans restrain themselves and their immediate desires in pursuit of longer-term goals. He discusses history and how the founding fathers had this view of American life, and how they intended for American citizens to be informed by virtue. Then, he discusses how Americans have lost this vision, and how this explains our contemporary decline, and how it may lead our society ...more
May 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Our country has many problems & there are many books out there ready & willing to explain how it is the fault of (pick the political party or movement you hate), & how the policies & decisions of (pick the politician or public leader you hate) are the cause of our difficulties.

If you want to read a careful, detailed account of why our nation is in the mess it's in, read this book. Oz Guinness does a fantastic job identifying our problems but again this is not another its Obamas
Apr 03, 2013 rated it liked it
Os Guinness is a superb artist with words. His knowledge of world history, both modern and ancient, is impressive as well. This book contains a lot of unique insights concerning America and its developing history as an empire, all of which illuminate many basic problems which keep it's traces of "true freedom" from being sustained in its present form. He sheds light on problems which have been around since the founding of the nation, some which have evolved since then, and some which are ...more
Jeff LeMaster
Feb 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Rome and its republic fell, and so too will the American republic unless So ends every chapter (except the final one) of Os Guinness remarkable book, A Free Peoples Suicide.

Guinness has a four part prescription for America to avoid the curse of history:

* Restore civic education: teach young people and remind adults about the preciousness of citizenship and its responsibilities.
* Rebuild a civil public square: step back from the vitriol and acrimony of the culture wars, and return to a civil
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Os Guinness (D.Phil., Oxford) is the author or editor of more than twenty-five books, including The American Hour, Time for Truth and The Case for Civility. A frequent speaker and prominent social critic, he was the founder of the Trinity Forum and has been a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution and a guest scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Studies. He lives near ...more

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“Americans might ponder two quotations. One is the much-cited, self-congratulatory saying attributed to Tocqueville (but whose source no one has so far been able to show me): "America is great because America is good." The other is the very real saying of Samuel Johnson, attacking the similar self-congratulatory "greatness" of the English: "We continue every day to show by new proofs, that no people can be great who have ceased to be virtuous.” 7 likes
“In short, contrary to the founders—and in ways they do not realize themselves—Americans today are heedlessly pursuing a vision of freedom that is short-lived and suicidal. Once again, freedom without virtue, leadership without character, business without trust, law without customs, education without meaning and medicine, science and technology without human considerations can end only in disaster.” 2 likes
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