A bright treat for browsers.



A collection of bracing interviews with American writers and thinkers.

Veteran journalist and nine-time Peabody Award winner Moyers (Moyers on Democracy, 2008, etc.) gathers a glittering array of discussions with authors, activists, historians, social scientists and others that were broadcast on his public-affairs program Bill Moyers Journal in 2007–10.  Focusing on topics both timely and timeless—torture, health-care reform, the U.S. economy, aging, compassion, God, among many others—the insatiably curious Moyers prods disparate intellectuals into candid talk about their sphere of interest. Often progressive, always articulate, the interviewees include historians Thomas Cahill, Nell Painter and Howard Zinn; poets Robert Bly, Nikki Giovanni and W.S. Merwin; journalists Douglas Blackmon, Barbara Ehrenreich, William Greider,  Robert Kaiser and Robert Wright; and activists Grace Lee Boggs (grassroots democracy), Jim Hightower (corporate power), Michael Pollan (food), Jane Goodall (animals) and Holly Sklar (workers). Each interview illuminates some main current in American life. Jon Stewart argues for the importance of joking about absurd world events; novelist Louise Erdrich reflects on the fractured inner life of a mother and writer of mixed ancestry; journalist Sam Tanenhaus distinguishes between the conservatism of Glenn Beck and William F. Buckley Jr.; and Republican insider Victor Gold tells why he awaits “a rebirth of Goldwater.” Judge Richard Goldstone discusses his controversial report on human-rights violations in the Gaza War, and streetwise reporter David Simon, best known for his HBO series The Wire, makes a strong case for crime as the best keyhole into how our society really works. When biologist E.O. Wilson reminds us that human activity is wiping out much of the rest of life on the planet, Moyers suspects that such life would probably survive without us. “Oh, it would do wonderfully well without us,” says the scientist.

A bright treat for browsers.

Pub Date: June 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-59558-624-7

Page Count: 592

Publisher: The New Press

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2011

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This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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Outstanding in every respect.



When the Supreme Court declined to accept the appeal of a 1963 rape case, Justice Arthur Goldberg published an unusual dissent questioning the constitutionality of the death penalty. From this small beginning, Mandery (John Jay College of Criminal Justice; Q: A Novel, 2011, etc.) skillfully traces the building momentum within the country and the court to question the legality of a punishment the Founding Fathers took for granted.

Indeed, by 1972, in Furman v. Georgia, the court struck down death penalty statutes so similar to those in 40 other states that executions nationwide came to a halt. Disagreement among Furman’s 5-4 majority—was the death penalty “cruel and unusual” punishment under the Eighth Amendment, or was its arbitrary application a violation under the 14th?—and a forceful dissent hinted at a blueprint for states to rewrite their capital-sentencing schemes. By 1976, 35 had done so. In Gregg v. Georgia and its companion cases, the court approved the revised statutes, opening the door to 1,300 state-sponsored executions since. Relying on interviews with law clerks and attorneys, information from economists, criminologists and social scientists, arguments from political and legal scholars, a thorough knowledge of all applicable cases and sure-handed storytelling, Mandery focuses on the strategies of the Legal Defense Fund, the remarkable attorneys who led the charge for abolition, to cover virtually every dimension of the capital punishment debate. The author is especially strong on the individual backgrounds, personalities and judicial philosophies of the justices, the shifting alliances among them and the frustrating contingencies upon which momentous decisions sometimes turn. Even those weary of this topic will be riveted by his insider information about towering figures, lawyers and judges.

Outstanding in every respect.

Pub Date: Aug. 19, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-393-23958-4

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: June 9, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2013

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