A book that provides necessary perspective on the racial conflagrations in the U.S.



A close reading of America’s racial chasm.

In the wake of what were often termed the Ferguson riots, Anderson (African American Studies/Emory Univ.; Bourgeois Radicals: The NAACP and the Struggle for Colonial Liberation, 1941-19602014, etc.) wrote an opinion column for the Washington Post with the headline, “Ferguson isn’t about black rage against cops. It’s white rage against progress.” Here, she extends her argument, showing how any signs of black rage might be more than justified in the face of decades of white intolerance, indifference, and obstruction. The author provides a perspective dating back to the Civil War, charging that the victory outlawing slavery failed during Reconstruction, which shifted terms without significantly improving the plight of the former slaves. “Indeed, for all the saintedness of his legacy as The Great Emancipator,” she writes, “Lincoln himself had neither the clarity, humanity, nor resolve necessary to fix what was so fundamentally broken. Nor did his successor.” Most of what Anderson traces in this compact study offers more summary than revelation, and while it does testify to the dehumanizing effects of white power and prejudice, the “white rage” of the title seems more like a rebalancing of the scales than a precise description. As she writes in the wake of Ferguson, “framing the discussion, dominating it, in fact, was an overwhelming focus on black rage…which, it seemed to me, entirely missed the point.” Yet the book builds to an emotional climax that justifies its title, as the election of the nation’s first black president brought such intensity to the nation’s fissures: “the vitriol heaped on Obama was simply unprecedented,” and the “hatred started early.” By the epilogue, Anderson’s analysis seems prescient. “Not even a full month after Dylann Roof gunned down nine African Americans,” she writes, “…Republican presidential front-runner, Donald Trump, fired up his ‘silent majority’…with a macabre promise: ‘Don’t worry, we’ll take our country back.’ ”

A book that provides necessary perspective on the racial conflagrations in the U.S.

Pub Date: May 31, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-63286-412-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


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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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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