While often an exercise in preaching to the choir, the book is also a fiery sermon that weighs the nation and finds it...

AMERICA

THE FAREWELL TOUR

With a trademark blend of heavy-handed polemic and sharply observed detail, Hedges (Wages of Rebellion: The Moral Imperative of Revolt, 2015, etc.) writes a requiem for the American dream.

“This moment in history marks the end of a long, sad tale of greed and murder by the white races,” writes the author. “It is inevitable that for the final show we vomited up a figure like Trump.” There’s not much room for evenhanded debate in the face of such language, but that’s beside the point: Hedges is ticked off, as ever, and here he is in full-tilt righteous indignation, making it clear that it’s not just Christians who are awaiting the apocalypse. Hedges limns an America whose economy is presupposed on mindless consumption and permanent war, in which the rich are now busily honoring Karl Marx’s prediction that in the end times, “the capitalist system would begin to consume the structures that sustained it”—health care, education, infrastructure, and so forth. That much seems inarguable. Hedges doubles down on the apocalyptic prophecy as his argument builds: “Droughts, floods, famines, and disease will eventually see the collapse of social cohesion,” he writes, “including U.S. coastal areas.” Nobody said that climate change and its effects would be pretty, but the author lays it on thickly as he delivers a comprehensive, onrushing litany of the horrors that await us. Where he uses hard data—as when he calculates that despite at annual expenditure of $76 billion in the war on drugs, overdose deaths have increased by 400 percent since 1999—Hedges is nearly unassailable. Where he relies on mere rhetoric, as in a rather strange disquisition on sex work, sadism, and capitalism, he’s less satisfying. His breadth of reference, however, is refreshing, drawing on the likes of Plato, Émile Durkheim, and Eric Voegelin—and lots of Marx—for reinforcement.

While often an exercise in preaching to the choir, the book is also a fiery sermon that weighs the nation and finds it wanting.

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5267-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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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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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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