Vintage Clinton, with provocative if generally evenhanded solutions to the economic crisis and political stalemate plaguing...

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WHY WE NEED SMART GOVERNMENT FOR A STRONG ECONOMY

The former president and bestselling author comes out swinging on the economic front.

He does so, it seems, a touch reluctantly. Clinton (Giving, 2007, etc.) writes that he had conceived this book but then shelved it several times “because politics is no longer the center of my working life”—and, he continues, “I don’t just want to add another stone to the Democratic side of the partisan scale.” An apolitical, nonpartisan Clinton? Fat chance, and here, with considerable appetite, he tears into the antigovernment opposition, the ones who assert, with Ronald Reagan, that government is part of the problem, if not the problem. Nonsense, Clinton argues: Government has many roles, not least an economic one in assuring that the political and social conditions are fitting to a robust economy. Besides, he writes, despite what that opposition is saying, the recent banking meltdown happened because the banks were overleveraged. The government helped avert a full-scale depression, and the stimulus helped “put a floor under the collapse and begin the recovery.” The opposition—he keeps returning to it—may appear to be antigovernment, but it’s really antitax and antiregulation, two things that simply don’t make sense in the current economic climate. In good political form, Clinton begins with generalities about what a good country this could be and what’s wrong with it—all those antigovernment talking heads, for one thing, who “already have the answers, and the fact that the evidence doesn’t support them is irrelevant.” Happily, though, he moves on to pointed specifics, some honed in policy-wonkish detail—on, for example, relaxing mortgage debt, developing a renewable energy regime and getting small businesses into the exporting game (“This is what Germany does”).

Vintage Clinton, with provocative if generally evenhanded solutions to the economic crisis and political stalemate plaguing the country.

Pub Date: Nov. 8, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-307-95975-1

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2011

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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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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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