A provocative exploration of the appeal of terrorist groups and how to counter it effectively.

HOME, LAND, SECURITY

DERADICALIZATION AND THE JOURNEY BACK FROM EXTREMISM

A National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize finalist urges Americans to find new ways to think about terrorism and “deradicalizing” former violent extremists.

Power gives surprising answers to some of the knottiest moral, legal, and practical questions of the post–9/11 era: Why do people join terrorist groups? What do we owe former militants? What kinds of deradicalization will prevent recidivism? Drawing on globe-spanning interviews with sources ranging from lawyers and neurologists to former jihadis and their families, the author shows that violent extremists tend to lack the religious zealotry that Americans often ascribe to them. An expert on terrorist groups told her: “The reality is that by and large people don’t join for ideological reasons. They join for adventure, excitement, or camaraderie.” Many militants are also so young and gullible they are easy prey for the Islamic State group or other recruiters. In Britain, Power met with the mother of a slain 19-year-old who was so naïve when he joined IS that he called his mother from Syria to ask, “Mama, would it be okay if I rode on the commander’s motorbike?” In Pakistan, the author visited an acclaimed school that deradicalizes former Taliban soldiers, and in Jakarta, she spoke to an Indonesian man known as “the Terrorist Whisperer,” who helps ex-jihadis learn to give TED-style talks in the hope that their stories will deter others. Power’s exceptionally wide-ranging research persuaded her that Americans need to stop thinking about former militants in absolutist terms like “good and evil” and to take a more nuanced approach to fostering their deradicalization and preventing the backsliding that may occur during long imprisonments. Her argument may not sit well with those who—for religious, ideological, or other reasons—believe that evil exists and society benefits from acknowledging it, but this book is full of valuable insights into violent extremism.

A provocative exploration of the appeal of terrorist groups and how to counter it effectively.

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-525-51057-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: July 7, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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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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