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Defiant Hope

Essays on Life, Faith and Freedom

About The Book

The best writings from George W. Bush’s speechwriter Michael Gerson, a pioneer of the compassionate conservative movement, a champion of Christian engagement, and an eloquent defender of the poor and the marginalized.

It is not an exaggeration to say that Michael Gerson possessed one of the most important consciences of his generation. As the chief speech writer for George W. Bush, he wrote the words that rallied and ennobled the nation after September 11th. He helped design and champion Bush’s PEPFAR program, which saved upwards of 20 million lives as HIV ravaged Africa. His famous line defending public education was to say that failure would amount to “a soft bigotry of low expectations.” He became one of the nation’s most eloquent columnists, who was never content to do political horse race punditry but devoted himself to the most essential causes of the time, pushing back on the authoritarianism of Donald Trump and pushing for the kind of compassionate conservatism that he dedicated his life to designing.

Defiant Hope is his writings about the things he loved—humanity, God, his dog, and his boys. Essays feature the immensely complicated sadness when you drop your children off at college for the first time. Another is about his public battle of depression. He also includes chapters about men and women who formed this great procession of Christian Reformers—John Wesley, Jonathan Edwards, William Wilberforce, and Olaudah Equiano—and the great causes to which they were devoted, from abolitionism to civil rights.

What lingers is his gracious voice across all the roles that he played, as David Brooks writes in the introduction. What you hear is “a prophet lamenting iniquity, a father and a friend capable of great bursts of gratitude and appreciation, a Christian who is sometimes buried under sadness and close to despair, but who never loses sight of that distant illuminating beacon of hope.”

About The Author

Photograph © Tina Hager

Michael Gerson was a nationally syndicated columnist who appeared twice weekly in The Washington Post. He was the author of Heroic Conservatism and coauthor of City of Man. He appeared regularly on PBS NewsHour, Face the Nation, and other programs. Gerson served as senior adviser at One, a bipartisan organization dedicated to the fight against extreme poverty and preventable diseases. Until 2006, Gerson was a top aide to President George W. Bush as assistant to the president for policy and strategic planning. Prior to that appointment, he served in the White House as assistant to the president for speechwriting, policy adviser, deputy assistant to the president and director of presidential speechwriting.

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