Since the subject of my book is abortion and since that subject tends to be highly controversial, I fully anticipated receiving – on one end – thoughtful and possibly even glowing reviews from people who agree with me about abortion, and – on the other end – scathing reviews from those who don’t. Reviewers, after all, are human.
The first reviews to appear on Amazon fit the former description while the first review to appear on audible.com fell solidly in the latter category. While contemptuous reviews are anticipated, it still injects some extra adrenaline in the blood flow to read something akin to hate-mail in the form of a public review. I am, after all, human. Enter: Anna from Las Vegas. I get the distinct feeling Anna just doesn’t like me.
After giving the book 1 star out of 5 (I suspect since negative stars are not an option), here’s what Anna writes about my book:
Would you try another book from Roger Resler and/or Roger Resler?
What do you think your next listen will be?
something actually entertaining
What didn’t you like about Roger Resler’s performance?
He is incredibly sanctimonious. Also, the addition of numerous adolescent voices is both annoying and attempting to illicit an emotional response from the audience. It is yet more one more way in which this book shows its bias and downright mean-ness.
What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?
Intense remorse for wasting a credit.
Any additional comments?
This book is sold as an unbiased account of abortion litigation. IT IS NOT. It is a pro-life screed. Essentially, do not listen to this unless you have already made up your mind about this issue.
The internet allows people to speak their mind freely and to say things they probably wouldn’t say if they were standing in front of you. In spite of the harsh words I think there are some things to be gleaned from this review. First, from her comment: “something actually entertaining” it would seem that Anna may have been hoping that my book would entertain her. If so, I can see why she might be disappointed – and especially so, if she is sympathetic to the pro-abortion cause.
Although I think it could reasonably be suggested that the book has its creative moments, it was certainly not intended to be an entertaining book. It was intended to be an educational book that accurately examines key elements of the Roe v. Wade oral arguments, majority and minority opinions; and evaluates them openly, fairly and honestly, from a pro-life point of view. I suspect Anna has already concluded that that is simply not possible. Were it not for thoughtful, pro-abortion writers like David Boonin, with whom I passionately disagree but, nevertheless, highly respect, I might have arrived at a similar conclusion about pro-choice/pro-abortion philosophy.
Anna describes my performance as “incredibly sanctimonious.” This is obviously subjective, and yet, I want to be open to criticism and try to honestly evaluate whether there is some truth lingering in the background. Anna is reviewing the audio book, so I think it is likely that my tone could come across as “incredibly sanctimonious” to someone who is pro-abortion. I suspect Anna would have a different take on the matter if I agreed with her opinions on abortion. Regardless, I definitely believe in what I have written in the book. Passionately so. I have no doubt that abortion kills innocent human beings. Consequently, I think a passionate, heartfelt delivery is appropriate. If that is what constitutes being “incredibly sanctimonious” then I accept the label unapologetically.
Anna’s next criticism is more intriguing. She suggests that, “the addition of numerous adolescent voices is both annoying and attempting to illicit an emotional response from the audience.” There are indeed a lot of voices other than my own in the audiobook. As to the suggestion that a “numerous” amount of them are “adolescent” voices, Anna is simply incorrect. My then-16-year-old daughter recorded one brief quote for the original audio production in 2006 when she was in high-school, which I retained for the new, expanded version. Her’s is the only voice that could be considered “adolescent.” There were four college age adults and many of the rest were, if not over the hill (like me), at least close enough to see the summit.
It’s surprising to learn that my motivation for using these alleged “adolescent voices” was – unbeknownst to me – an attempt to “illicit an emotional response from the audience.” It’s especially surprising since, in the first place, with regard to the exploitation of my daughter’s voice, I simply remember needing a female voice and she happened to be available (given that she lived in the same house as I did at the time and had no homework to do – or at least she preferred recording to doing said homework). In the second place, illiciting an emotional response from the audience has never been a goal for the book, so I’m confident it wasn’t a consideration when looking for voices. The simple truth is: I did not write the book to appeal to emotions. It is intended to appeal to the force of reason and logic. I think even critics should be generous enough to concede at least that much.
It’s interesting that several other reviewers have found the “numerous voices” to be a nice touch that keeps the listener from tuning out. That is certainly more in line with what I had in mind by using additional voices for quoted material. Anna, however, suggests that the use of “numerous adolescent voices” is “yet one more way in which this book shows its bias and downright mean-ness.”
This one truly has me baffled. Why would the use of (what she incorrectly perceives to be) “numerous adolescent voices” show “bias” and “downright mean-ness”? Perhaps Anna believes I was exploiting children by forcing them to participate in the production of pro-life propaganda. If so, I can assure Anna that my daughter voluntarily recorded the quote. In all fairness, however, bribery may have been involved. It is entirely possible there may have been an enticement in the form of a cookie. Pro-lifers will stoop to anything.
Finally, Anna suggests that the book “is sold as an unbiased account of abortion litigation.” This is another area where Anna’s review is simply factually inaccurate. She will not find that description anywhere in the promotional materials for the book. The truth is, we all have a bias; myself included. Anna does as well. And so do all pro-choice and pro-life proponents. It comes with being human and having opinions. No one is unbiased. I would not have allowed a description that claims the book is “unbiased” to have been used to promote the book. What eChristian (the publisher) does state is this:
“This carefully researched book speaks with a thought-provoking, balanced voice that will challenge your thinking on abortion no matter where you currently stand on the issue.”
I think that’s an accurate description. In fact, I suspect its accuracy may be playing out in terms of challenging Anna’s thinking, which, in turn, has sparked a passionate response. The description makes no claim of my being “unbiased” but does suggest careful research and a “balanced voice.” That term was not my opinion, but the opinion of my editors. It is certainly subjective, and, as such, Anna is free to disagree with it. Given what I might have written about the type of reasoning Sarah Weddington and the Roe majority employed, however, I think “balanced” is a reasonable description for what made it to publication. If not balanced, then certainly restrained. In any case, the book is unapologetically written from a pro-life point of view.
Anna prefers to characterize it as a “pro-life screed;” suggesting that you should not listen “unless you have already made up your mind about this issue.” That is an interesting comment that, once again, is slightly baffling. Anna seems to be suggesting that if you’ve already made up your mind about the abortion issue, then it’s okay to read my book. But if not – if you’re undecided – then, apparently, you shouldn’t. I suppose the logical implication might be that, if you’re undecided on abortion, the “bias and downright mean-ness” of the book when coupled with the sinister use of “numerous adolescent voices” might illicit an unexpected emotional response which, in turn, might have the potential to illegitimately sway you toward the pro-life point of view. If that is at least close to what Anna is suggesting, then I could see how she might want to insulate unwary folks from falling into unwarranted sympathy for the pro-life cause due only to the underhanded tactics of a sanctimonious pro-life author.
More important to me, however, is the fact that Anna makes no claims whatsoever regarding the accuracy or inaccuracy of the arguments that are made and the conclusions that are drawn in the book. While she finds fault with (what she perceives to be) the youth of the voices, she says nothing about what the voices are actually stating. The real irony is that the majority of the quotes in the book come from solidly pro-abortion proponents like Sarah Weddington, Marian Faux, Beverly Harrison, Jack Balkin, Jed Rubenfeld, Connie Paige, Gloria Feldt, Naomi Wolf, Francesca Minerva, Alberto Guibilini, Roy Lucas, Cyril Means Jr. and Harry Blackmun. Unlike Anna, I respond directly to the arguments presented by these pro-abortion advocates with what I believe are sound, rational arguments that refute their logic. Anna has no comment about this. She challenges none of the facts presented; none of the premises; none of the logic and none of the conclusions.
As it stands, her review is a classic example of the ad hominem fallacy which is the fallacy of attacking the messenger rather than the message.
If you ever read this review of your review, Anna, I would encourage you to post any substantive objection to the facts, arguments and logic that I present in the book. If you do so, I will consider reducing the level of sanctimoniousness when recording my next pro-life screed.
All the best!