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Tie-in to his Radio 4 series, thought leader Jonathan Sacks on how we can build a strong collective morality for the modern era.

In today’s world of cultural climate change, argues Jonathan Sacks, we have outsourced morality to the markets on the one hand, and to government on the other. If the market rewards it, it must be OK – unless the law says not to.

Yet while the markets have brought wealth to many and the state has done much to contain the worst excesses of inequality, neither is capable of bearing the moral weight of showing us how to live.

On the one hand, traditional values no longer hold, yet recent political swings show that modern ideals of tolerance have left many feeling rudderless and adrift. In this environment we see things fall apart in unexpected ways – toxic public discourse that makes true societal progress almost unattainable; the rise of religious extremism on the one hand and of aggressive atheism on the other; a drive for respect of all that establishes ‘safe space’ only where true debate is off limits.

How can we build – or rebuild – a collective culture that is able to both respect difference and draw us together to work for the common good? Talking to key modern influences and thinkers, and drawing inspiration from the Bible and the historical experience of the Jewish people, Sacks argues that there are eight key factors in establishing, maintaining and passing on resilient moral values within a broad group, among them attitudes of lifelong learning and of thanksgiving, the importance of family life and community, and a culture of positive argument in place of destructive conflict.

Combining his passionate belief in a positive way forward with a careful weighing of the realities and challenges of the position in which we find ourselves, Jonathan Sacks sets out a clear picture of a world in which we can all find our place and build a future worth working for.

(P)2018 Hodder & Stoughton Limited


Jonathan Sacks is one of the great moral thinkers of our time. His latest book, Morality, applies his powerful approach to the unprecedented challenges of our time - social, political, economic, and above all, cultural. May his words be heeded throughout the land.
Robert D. Putnam Professor, Harvard University and author of Bowling Alone (2000) and The Upswing (2020)
Sacks unpacks a whole litany of dystopian trends arising from our relentless preoccupation with me, me, me
Premier Christianity
Sacks presents an articulate and impassioned argument . . . He is a fine exegete of the Hebrew Scriptures, and his belief in the common good is profound.
The strength of Morality does not reside in Jonathan Sacks's discussion of political and philosophical theorists, but in those passages in which he speaks to us as rabbi and community leader.
'Sacks argues convincingly that this pursuit of the common good has been disappearing from the West, and has left us impoverished and damaged.'
Jewish Renaissance
The inheritor of a tradition with a long historical memory of loss, exile, death and mourning, Sacks has things to say that speak more directly to our present condition than anything in recent liberal thinking.
New Statesman
'Let Us Dream thus joins a growing body of Covid-era literature calling for a communitarian reset of liberal values and institutions... Morality by the late Jonathan Sacks have all traversed similar territory. The collective pro noun is back in fashion.'
And so this last book reads like a summation of his life's work - a propitiously timed gift and a starting point for discussion.
The Washington Post
the work will stand as a worthy successor to, and, in many respects, summation of Sacks's impressive oeuvre
Jewish Chronicle
Awarded Book of the Year 2020 in the National Jewish Book Awards Lady Elaine Sacks commented: 'I know my late husband was very proud of Morality and would have been most honoured by this recognition from the Jewish Book Council. Though he had won many previous Jewish Book Awards, none of his books had been named as the Book of the Year. This shows the particular relevance of Morality in today's increasingly complex world. In the book, he aimed to show society a way forward, and one which prioritises the "We" over the "I" - something he passionately believed in throughout his life. Though he is much missed by our family and so many others, I am delighted the book has been recognised in this way.'
His last book, Morality, while written before the spread of coronavirus, is highly relevant to today's situation. He would not have been silent were he still with us, and his voice is sadly missed.
The Times