Powerfully crafted accusations sounding the alarm on an insidious trend in political manipulation.




A damning jeremiad on how modern public policy can be exploited by corporate chicanery.

Journalist and national radio host Rabin-Havt (co-author: The Fox Effect: How Roger Ailes Turned a Network into a Propaganda Machine, 2012, etc.), in conjunction with news watchdog Media Matters for America, digs deep to reveal a consortium of manipulators bent on undermining beneficial organizations and causes with manufactured misinformation. From the initial pages, the author blatantly skewers controversial public relations guru Richard Berman as a smear campaign propagandist. Rabin-Havt proceeds to systematically compile an incriminating dossier of lobbyists, propaganda spinners, unethical authorities, and “unscrupulous think tanks,” collaboratively known as “Lies, Incorporated.” These groups channel misinformation and generate public confusion around the most controversial hot-button issues surfacing during the Barack Obama administration. In a narrative that is far from sour-grapes disparagement, the author provides meticulous research and evidentiary support backing claims of these groups’ corruption dating back to their inception in the early 1950s when a shady syndicate of tobacco industry titans disseminated falsified information about the risks of cigarette smoking. For every crucial issue that surfaces, a corporation’s interests appear directly threatened by its exposure, the author implies, and desperate measures are taken by appointed spin doctors to skew semantics and twist reality for the sake of profit. With succinct clarity, Rabin-Havt demonstrates that statistics on climate change and global warming are continually challenged by the oil industry, just as efforts to promote comprehensive immigration reform, affordable health care, gun control laws, abortion rights, and gay marriage have all been continually contradicted by opposing factions propagating critically damaging misinformation. But the problem seems to have spiraled out of control. This is most obvious in the book’s closing chapter of remedies to “weaponize truth” by “demanding transparency from elected leaders as well as the media.” While galvanizing and optimistic, these solutions require major cultural shifts and, alas, appear to be as complex as the problem itself.

Powerfully crafted accusations sounding the alarm on an insidious trend in political manipulation.

Pub Date: April 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-307-27959-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Anchor

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2016

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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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