An effortless, accessible way to learn history.

TRUST ME, I KNOW WHAT I'M DOING

100 MORE MISTAKES THAT LOST ELECTIONS, ENDED EMPIRES, AND MADE THE WORLD WHAT IT IS TODAY

A lively sequel to Fawcett’s 100 Mistakes that Changed History (2010), with few surprises.

From the first ancient Chinese emperor’s vainglorious quest for immortality to the Japanese building of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant directly over a fault line, the author plucks out of a long historical dateline some of the glaring follies in leadership that, if handled differently, just might have changed history. Had Qin Shi Huang properly educated his son for succession rather than jealously isolating him, the first great Chinese empire might have survived and thrived. Had the Japanese updated rather than denied safety regulations, the nuclear fallout after the 2011 tsunami might have been minimized. If Hannibal hadn’t insisted on crossing the Alps with elephants in 218 B.C., he would not have destroyed his Carthaginian army. If Harold II had not precipitously declared himself king of Britain and rushed into battle, he might have been able to withstand the onslaught of William of Normandy at the decisive Battle of Hastings. Fawcett examines myriad shoulda-woulda-coulda examples concerning history’s great names, narrated in fairly flat-footed prose but supported by proficient research. How would history have changed had France and England challenged Hitler immediately on the occupation of the Rhineland; had Hitler not given a stop order at Dunkirk in 1940; or had he not invaded Russia? What if the United States had not underestimated the Japanese military threat before being tested at Pearl Harbor? And how would the world have turned out today if President George W. Bush had heeded ominous terrorist signs well before 9/11?

An effortless, accessible way to learn history.

Pub Date: Dec. 4, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-425-25736-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2012

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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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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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