Significant legal history with lessons for all citizens.

A sharp history that shows the precarious nature of American citizenship.

As law professor Frost demonstrates in this crisp, concise book, the revocation of citizenship from native-born or naturalized individuals often stems from the desire to deprive individuals and/or groups of their political and civil rights, with an eye toward deportation. The overarching intention is to shape society to the prevailing ideological moment, to ensure that anti-establishment forces don’t “taint” the nation’s “purity” or challenge the hegemony of White leadership. Frost uses the stories of individual actors, from Emma Goldman to Robert E. Lee to Dred and Harriet Scott, to fill out the bigger picture of the government’s assault upon—or at least selective reading of—the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments. It’s a sorry tale that Frost narrates engagingly, digging into the ever shifting racial boundaries of citizenship as well as the unconstitutional deployment of denaturalization initiatives. Frost explores how a wide range of factors, including race, ethnicity, and religious and political preferences, have sparked the state to intervene to maintain the status quo. “Denaturalization is most often associated with totalitarian regimes such as Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union,” writes the author. “But by the end of the twentieth century, the US government had denaturalized at least twenty-two thousand people—more than any other democracy before or since. The effect of the denaturalization campaign was to silence those who might otherwise have taken on leadership positions in politics, journalism, and the labor movement. By publicly targeting [certain] men and women…the government hoped to intimidate into silence tens of thousands of foreign-born citizens who were similarly vulnerable.” In the 21st century, the citizenship debate continues to be heated and controversial—but still revolves around the state’s power to deny the rights of “undesirables.” The takeaway is that citizenship is conditional, a fact that is hardly news for Dreamers across the U.S.

Significant legal history with lessons for all citizens.

Pub Date: Jan. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-8070-5142-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020


Alternately admiring and critical, unvarnished, and a closely detailed account of a troubled innovator.

A warts-and-all portrait of the famed techno-entrepreneur—and the warts are nearly beyond counting.

To call Elon Musk (b. 1971) “mercurial” is to undervalue the term; to call him a genius is incorrect. Instead, Musk has a gift for leveraging the genius of others in order to make things work. When they don’t, writes eminent biographer Isaacson, it’s because the notoriously headstrong Musk is so sure of himself that he charges ahead against the advice of others: “He does not like to share power.” In this sharp-edged biography, the author likens Musk to an earlier biographical subject, Steve Jobs. Given Musk’s recent political turn, born of the me-first libertarianism of the very rich, however, Henry Ford also comes to mind. What emerges clearly is that Musk, who may or may not have Asperger’s syndrome (“Empathy did not come naturally”), has nurtured several obsessions for years, apart from a passion for the letter X as both a brand and personal name. He firmly believes that “all requirements should be treated as recommendations”; that it is his destiny to make humankind a multi-planetary civilization through innovations in space travel; that government is generally an impediment and that “the thought police are gaining power”; and that “a maniacal sense of urgency” should guide his businesses. That need for speed has led to undeniable successes in beating schedules and competitors, but it has also wrought disaster: One of the most telling anecdotes in the book concerns Musk’s “demon mode” order to relocate thousands of Twitter servers from Sacramento to Portland at breakneck speed, which trashed big parts of the system for months. To judge by Isaacson’s account, that may have been by design, for Musk’s idea of creative destruction seems to mean mostly chaos.

Alternately admiring and critical, unvarnished, and a closely detailed account of a troubled innovator.

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2023

ISBN: 9781982181284

Page Count: 688

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2023


A clearly delineated guide to finally eradicate poverty in America.

A thoughtful program for eradicating poverty from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Evicted.

“America’s poverty is not for lack of resources,” writes Desmond. “We lack something else.” That something else is compassion, in part, but it’s also the lack of a social system that insists that everyone pull their weight—and that includes the corporations and wealthy individuals who, the IRS estimates, get away without paying upward of $1 trillion per year. Desmond, who grew up in modest circumstances and suffered poverty in young adulthood, points to the deleterious effects of being poor—among countless others, the precarity of health care and housing (with no meaningful controls on rent), lack of transportation, the constant threat of losing one’s job due to illness, and the need to care for dependent children. It does not help, Desmond adds, that so few working people are represented by unions or that Black Americans, even those who have followed the “three rules” (graduate from high school, get a full-time job, wait until marriage to have children), are far likelier to be poor than their White compatriots. Furthermore, so many full-time jobs are being recast as contracted, fire-at-will gigs, “not a break from the norm as much as an extension of it, a continuation of corporations finding new ways to limit their obligations to workers.” By Desmond’s reckoning, besides amending these conditions, it would not take a miracle to eliminate poverty: about $177 billion, which would help end hunger and homelessness and “make immense headway in driving down the many agonizing correlates of poverty, like violence, sickness, and despair.” These are matters requiring systemic reform, which will in turn require Americans to elect officials who will enact that reform. And all of us, the author urges, must become “poverty abolitionists…refusing to live as unwitting enemies of the poor.” Fortune 500 CEOs won’t like Desmond’s message for rewriting the social contract—which is precisely the point.

A clearly delineated guide to finally eradicate poverty in America.

Pub Date: March 21, 2023

ISBN: 9780593239919

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2023

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