Sure to be a hot gag-gift item inside the Beltway—and to provoke angry tweets from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

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YOU CAN'T SPELL AMERICA WITHOUT ME

THE REALLY TREMENDOUS INSIDE STORY OF MY FANTASTIC FIRST YEAR AS PRESIDENT DONALD J. TRUMP (A SO-CALLED PARODY)

A rollicking spoof by classically trained actor Baldwin (Nevertheless, 2017), who has made considerable hay in the past year as the foremost Donald Trump impersonator, and Spy magazine co-founder Andersen (Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire, 2017, etc.).

Teaming up with photographer Mark Seliger, who captures Baldwin in all his pouty-lower-lip majesty, the authors serve up a withering sendup of Trump, the aggressively repetitive “Me” of the title. Despite that brace of partners, without breaking persona, Baldwin/Trump insists that this memoir, “unlike my many previous excellent Trump books, which were typed up by subcontractors who interviewed me, is being created 100 percent by me.” Of course it is, just as Trump created all his wealth single-handedly—and, in any event, “what ‘professional writer’ could I trust to understand and truly love Trump?” It’s a good question. Baldwin/Trump charts his seemingly out-of-the-blue political rise to his close friendship with the much-despised Roy Cohn, who “was my mentor, and I was his John F. Kennedy, if Joseph Kennedy had been gay and Jewish and his son had been Protestant.” The lessons of the master stuck: make sure to get prenups and postnups, to get paid by the book and not the word (take that, publishers!), and to control the narrative about the rise from uptown bully to being “officially equal to or better than John F. Kennedy, George Washington, Ronald Reagan, Thomas Jefferson, Abe Lincoln, all of the Roosevelts.” The cumulative effect of the book, sad to say, is a bit depressing, for it captures its putative author in all his solipsistic, preening self-regard, all his insistence on his genius (“I mean, I’m a smart guy, graduated Wharton top of my class”), and all his nutty conspiracy theories. It’s all a bit much. But then, so is everything else about this president.

Sure to be a hot gag-gift item inside the Beltway—and to provoke angry tweets from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-525-52199-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 7, 2017

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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