A well-researched historical discussion with clear current relevance.

THE DEPORTATION MACHINE

AMERICA'S LONG HISTORY OF EXPELLING IMMIGRANTS

Exacting study of the historical roots of U.S. deportation policies.

As Goodman observes, though “the deportation machine has been running on all cylinders in recent years…it did not just come into being during the presidency of Donald J. Trump,” whose policies are discussed in a chilling epilogue. The author’s lean narrative contains six long chapters, examining the many political events that have caused fluctuating severity and approaches. Goodman illuminates surprising historical aspects—e.g., how enforcement began as racist local efforts aimed at Chinese and Mexican laborers. With increased central bureaucracy in the 1920s, “authorities placed an even greater emphasis on controlling the nation’s borders.” During the Depression, they were “increasingly aware of the power of scare tactics to exert control over noncitizens, and especially Mexicans.” Later, the Bracero agricultural workers who’d been welcomed during the war were scapegoated, culminating in the aggressive “Operation Wetback.” In the mid-20th century, writes the author, “voluntary departure and anti-immigrant fear campaigns became the dominant mechanisms of expulsion.” With so-called voluntary departures, “there were no bureaucratic hoops to jump through.” A lack of transparency about official practices has always been a problem. Goodman notes that “immigration historians know little about how authorities have forcibly removed people, and even less about the US government contracting private companies to effect expulsions.” He explores how return migration provided profitability to steamship companies followed by private aviation and even Greyhound buses; even in the 1950s, conditions aboard ships were so vile that detainees mutinied. The author also argues that manufactured border crises, abetted by sensationalist media, caused expulsion rates to begin climbing during the 1960s, and he notes that “INS also ramped up neighborhood and workplace raids,” a harbinger of today’s militarized borders and mass-incarceration approach. Goodman’s writing can be dry, but he confidently handles arcane historical details and a volatile subject.

A well-researched historical discussion with clear current relevance. (b/w tables, graphs, photos)

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-691-18215-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Princeton Univ.

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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A concise personal and scholarly history that avoids academic jargon as it illuminates emotional truths.

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ON JUNETEENTH

The Harvard historian and Texas native demonstrates what the holiday means to her and to the rest of the nation.

Initially celebrated primarily by Black Texans, Juneteenth refers to June 19, 1865, when a Union general arrived in Galveston to proclaim the end of slavery with the defeat of the Confederacy. If only history were that simple. In her latest, Gordon-Reed, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award, Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, and numerous other honors, describes how Whites raged and committed violence against celebratory Blacks as racism in Texas and across the country continued to spread through segregation, Jim Crow laws, and separate-but-equal rationalizations. As Gordon-Reed amply shows in this smooth combination of memoir, essay, and history, such racism is by no means a thing of the past, even as Juneteenth has come to be celebrated by all of Texas and throughout the U.S. The Galveston announcement, notes the author, came well after the Emancipation Proclamation but before the ratification of the 13th Amendment. Though Gordon-Reed writes fondly of her native state, especially the strong familial ties and sense of community, she acknowledges her challenges as a woman of color in a state where “the image of Texas has a gender and a race: “Texas is a White man.” The author astutely explores “what that means for everyone who lives in Texas and is not a White man.” With all of its diversity and geographic expanse, Texas also has a singular history—as part of Mexico, as its own republic from 1836 to 1846, and as a place that “has connections to people of African descent that go back centuries.” All of this provides context for the uniqueness of this historical moment, which Gordon-Reed explores with her characteristic rigor and insight.

A concise personal and scholarly history that avoids academic jargon as it illuminates emotional truths.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-63149-883-1

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Liveright/Norton

Review Posted Online: Feb. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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A top-notch political memoir and serious exercise in practical politics for every reader.

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A PROMISED LAND

In the first volume of his presidential memoir, Obama recounts the hard path to the White House.

In this long, often surprisingly candid narrative, Obama depicts a callow youth spent playing basketball and “getting loaded,” his early reading of difficult authors serving as a way to impress coed classmates. (“As a strategy for picking up girls, my pseudo-intellectualism proved mostly worthless,” he admits.) Yet seriousness did come to him in time and, with it, the conviction that America could live up to its stated aspirations. His early political role as an Illinois state senator, itself an unlikely victory, was not big enough to contain Obama’s early ambition, nor was his term as U.S. Senator. Only the presidency would do, a path he painstakingly carved out, vote by vote and speech by careful speech. As he writes, “By nature I’m a deliberate speaker, which, by the standards of presidential candidates, helped keep my gaffe quotient relatively low.” The author speaks freely about the many obstacles of the race—not just the question of race and racism itself, but also the rise, with “potent disruptor” Sarah Palin, of a know-nothingism that would manifest itself in an obdurate, ideologically driven Republican legislature. Not to mention the meddlings of Donald Trump, who turns up in this volume for his idiotic “birther” campaign while simultaneously fishing for a contract to build “a beautiful ballroom” on the White House lawn. A born moderate, Obama allows that he might not have been ideological enough in the face of Mitch McConnell, whose primary concern was then “clawing [his] way back to power.” Indeed, one of the most compelling aspects of the book, as smoothly written as his previous books, is Obama’s cleareyed scene-setting for how the political landscape would become so fractured—surely a topic he’ll expand on in the next volume.

A top-notch political memoir and serious exercise in practical politics for every reader.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6316-9

Page Count: 768

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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