An astonishing roster, documenting history as it is being made and democracy as it is being unmade.

THE LIST

A WEEK-BY-WEEK RECKONING OF TRUMP’S FIRST YEAR

A Homeric catalog, in numbered lists, of all the wrongs the current occupant of the White House has done unto the republic.

“Not a single A-list celebrity is willing to perform at Trump’s inauguration (at which he tweeted his anger).” So enumerates former Wall Street executive and now nonprofit CEO Siskind. Acting on a suggestion from writer Sarah Kendzior, who provides the foreword, Siskind began writing down “the specific things they never would have believed, things that they never would have done, before the regime came into power,” on the theory that the death of democracy comes with thousands of incremental cuts. Thousands of cuts indeed figure on “The List,” an exacting catalog of kleptocratic maneuvers, exercises in alternative fact, and the shock and awe of executive orders meant to undo everything the preceding administration accomplished. Some of that catalog is a running constant: Meetings on the part of Trumpian officials with various Russian entities figure from the very start, and, as Siskind presciently writes in her “overwhelming” 18-point list of Week 2 alone, “Russian propaganda was the source of much of the ‘fake news’ during the campaign.” The list also includes things in the larger culture, such as the fact that by Week 12, George Orwell’s 1984 was riding the Amazon bestseller list, and by Week 15, emboldened neofascists were vandalizing Jewish cemeteries. Some of Siskind’s reckoning reads as if from ancient history: the firing of former FBI director James Comey, for instance. But much of it remains fresh. By Week 10 and its head-exploding 41 items, Paul Manafort is under suspicion of campaign-finance crimes, while as early as Week 2, daughter Ivanka is insisting on a role as an emissary to heads of state and other foreign dignitaries, even as West Wing denizen Kellyanne Conway is busily violating the Hatch Act from the comfort of the Oval Office couch.

An astonishing roster, documenting history as it is being made and democracy as it is being unmade.

Pub Date: March 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63557-271-1

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2018

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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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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