A fair-minded view of a topic that’s as divisive as any in the current political discourse.




A rising presence in the Democratic Party faces off against the current epidemic of mayhem in America.

Are Americans any more violent than other people? Probably not, suggests Murphy, a senator from Connecticut; the tendency, even instinct, to violent reaction is a human universal. Yet, he asks, “Why is America such a disturbing outlier of violence in the industrialized world?” In this broad-ranging study, his answers are various, from in- and out-group rivalry in a nation of many ethnicities and cultures to the plain fact that guns are entirely too accessible. Murphy’s account proceeds from the grim realities of incidents such as the slaughter of children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in his home state, piled onto other mass shootings, to “the grudge crimes, the domestic assaults, and the suicides” that end in gunshots. The author delivers a few rueful confessions along the way: When he was a member of the House of Representatives, he didn’t pay much attention to the question of gun violence “because the one major city in my congressional district, Waterbury, had very few gun homicides.” Expanding his purview to places like New Haven and Hartford expanded his view of the problem. Murphy also delivers a couple of surprises, such as his view that, for the most part, the current judicial position that the Second Amendment covers individual gun owners is correct—or at least a nonstarter to argue against, since other preventive measures, such as monitoring would-be buyers for criminal records and the like, are available. The author closes his winding but effective narrative, which incorporates everything from the latest federal statistics to scholarly views of human nature, with the observation that the National Rifle Association is becoming politically marginalized and, with it, the GOP. Ultimately, Murphy hopes for the rise of a class of voters “who will decide never to support a candidate who doesn’t support commonsense interventions like universal background checks and assault weapons bans.”

A fair-minded view of a topic that’s as divisive as any in the current political discourse.

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-984854-57-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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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...


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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