A fascinating and troubling index. The good news: The new America is broadly disliked in America, too. Keep your eyes on the...




Democrats are from Europe; Republicans are from Mars; nobody in the world likes immigrants; and George Bush’s America has a major image problem.

Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, and Pew consultant Stokes describe the results of a worldwide opinion poll involving 91,000 interviews in 50 countries from 2002 to 2005. Anti-American sentiment was widespread before 9/11, they observe, but outside of the Arab world it was generally the minority view; in this regard, they give the sitting president a pass, noting that “strains between the United States and its old allies, and indeed between America and the rest of the world, predated George W. Bush.” Yet in the wake of 9/11, and particularly since the invasion of Iraq, anti-Americanism has become the majority view in most of the world, and throughout Europe America is seen as more dangerous than Iran. The reasons are many, including contempt for the tawdriness of American consumer culture and for the fundamentalist tilt of the government, but there’s more to it than all that: People are tired of hearing how different and superior we are (and Pew polls reveal that the least exceptional Americans believe in American exceptionalism). Canadian scholar Michael Ignatieff enumerates other reasons, all of which figure in the survey results: Majorities across the world despise capital punishment; America’s disregard for the poor; a president they believe attained office unjustly in 2000; a culture that hates the thought of gay marriage but divorces on a dime; and America’s God-obsessed people—and they worry that Americans as a class are greedy, dishonest and violent. Interestingly, Kohut and Stokes note, Democrats are far more likely to hold “European” views than are Republicans—but even they are likely to subscribe to exceptionalism.

A fascinating and troubling index. The good news: The new America is broadly disliked in America, too. Keep your eyes on the polls.

Pub Date: May 9, 2006

ISBN: 0-8050-7721-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Times/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2006

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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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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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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