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What is the Beloved Republic? E. M. Forster, who coined the phrase, called it a "an aristocracy of the sensitive, the considerate, and the plucky." They are "sensitive for others as well as for themselves, they are considerate without being fussy, their pluck is not swankiness but the power to endure, and they can take a joke." Pitted against authoritarianism, the Beloved Republic is the peaceful and fragile confederacy of kind, benevolent, and creative people in a world of tyrants, thugs, and loud-mouthed bullies. Steven Harvey's fourth collection of personal essays, taking Forster's phrase for its title, can be read as dispatches from that besieged land. Here, in a country under threat of authoritarianism, riots, and insurrection, politics and the human spirit collide.
The scope of the book is wide. Essays examine inherent bias toward Trayvon Martin, explicit racism at the Charlottesville rally, the commercialization of the Great American Eclipse, and the cruelty of authoritarianism. One essay creates a collage of scenes from the struggles for civil rights, LGBTQ rights, and international peace and ponders whether the arc of the universe is moral. In a second section, the essays take on solitary experiences including the secular spirituality of a mountaintop vision, the acceptance of death in world without heaven, the solace that personal essays can bring to readers and writers, and the bittersweet rediscovery of a mother's love fifty years after her suicide. Taken together these essays position themselves along the sharp edges of human experience where self, world, and words almost align-the bedrock of the personal essay.