ARTHUR C. CLARKE'S JULY 20, 2019

LIFE IN THE 21ST CENTURY (OMNI BOOK)

The date is the 50th anniversary of the moonwalk, 17 years ago (ergo, 33 years hence). The theme is what life will be like. The coverage is pure Clarke: heavy on the high tech; light on the arts. The tone, more Brave New World and Clockwork Orange than paradise gained. Take the chapter "An Afternoon on the Couch." Patient has been vaccinated against schizophrenia, taken her pills for mood control, is cued into a Rogerian analyst. Patients in 2019 are not your crazies and depressives, but suffer "inadequate worldviews," "subclinical anomie." Neurochemical and electrical workups tell it all, cure it all. Or the one on the bedroom—more mechanized orgasms, brain implants, push-button pleasure. . .with the promise that the best sex awaits zero-gravity undulations in space. As for school, work, home life, Clarke invokes what you might expect in the way of supercomputers and laserdiscs that will respond to your voice command and place the world's learning at your fingertips. Meanwhile, lovable robots will do the drudge work, provide companionship, and allow you leisure to pursue entertainments like movies that outdo each other in special effects or sports that will be based on a new breed of brainy/steroid-built superjocks. Had enough? Wait. Clarke also supplies his versions of hospital days and death-defying regimens. The scenarios here smack of Coma with illicit dealing in organ transplants, aborted babies as source of brain cells and so on. Clarke also hypothesizes war in 2019—an affair that starts as a rebellion in East Germany and escalates. An epilogue laments the decline in the United Nations, but sees hope in further developments of one of Clarke's own favorite: projects: satellite communications. It will make earth a global family yet, he predicts. This note of optimism and a long, Clarke-at-his-best description of life in a 2019 space station (based on present experience) lift the book out of the veil of joyless hardware.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1986

ISBN: 0025258001

Page Count: 326

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1986

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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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