More Dragnet than Hill Street Blues, an ambition it succeeds in.

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POLICE HEROES

TRUE STORIES OF COURAGE ABOUT AMERICA’S BRAVE MEN, WOMEN, AND K-9 OFFICERS

For hardcore cop groupies, Weegee-like snapshots of cops in action.

Is every police officer a hero? With 740,000 cops in America, TV producer Whitlock settles for 25 incidents of valor, using interviews and descriptions to crack open the car chases, shootings, rescues, and other similar events that season the policeman’s working life. His tales are cinematic. There’s the shootout in a cop bar in Las Vegas as Dennis Devitte, an off-duty officer, shot it out with an armed robber, Emilio Rodriguez, taking eight bullets. There’s the high-speed car chase in Boca Raton that led officer Paul Holland through four cities at up to 90 miles an hour and ended with a gun battle. There’s the truly painful story of Pittsburgh policeman John Joseph Wilbur, who approached a suspicious car in which two men were apparently doing crack. They took off, with Wilbur unwillingly along for the ride, his wedding ring caught in the driver’s door. Dragging himself up while the car bounced him along the street, Wilbur was able to get off some shots before the ring broke. Not a subtle writer, Whitlock works at two speeds: tabloid and super-tabloid. His officers are invariably modest, brave, and altruistic. His conviction that police are some rarer breed of human being takes an idea that has some merit at its core (some policemen do perform heroic acts) and inflates it until it becomes an authoritarian fantasy. That said, these stories are invariably gripping. The author devotes his final chapter to a rundown of the law-enforcement personnel killed at the World Trade Center, but, however nobly intended, his thumbnail sketches don’t get us any closer to the police actions taken that day.

More Dragnet than Hill Street Blues, an ambition it succeeds in.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-312-28800-X

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2002

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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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A clear and candid contribution to an essential conversation.

SO YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT RACE

Straight talk to blacks and whites about the realities of racism.

In her feisty debut book, Oluo, essayist, blogger, and editor at large at the Establishment magazine, writes from the perspective of a black, queer, middle-class, college-educated woman living in a “white supremacist country.” The daughter of a white single mother, brought up in largely white Seattle, she sees race as “one of the most defining forces” in her life. Throughout the book, Oluo responds to questions that she has often been asked, and others that she wishes were asked, about racism “in our workplace, our government, our homes, and ourselves.” “Is it really about race?” she is asked by whites who insist that class is a greater source of oppression. “Is police brutality really about race?” “What is cultural appropriation?” and “What is the model minority myth?” Her sharp, no-nonsense answers include talking points for both blacks and whites. She explains, for example, “when somebody asks you to ‘check your privilege’ they are asking you to pause and consider how the advantages you’ve had in life are contributing to your opinions and actions, and how the lack of disadvantages in certain areas is keeping you from fully understanding the struggles others are facing.” She unpacks the complicated term “intersectionality”: the idea that social justice must consider “a myriad of identities—our gender, class, race, sexuality, and so much more—that inform our experiences in life.” She asks whites to realize that when people of color talk about systemic racism, “they are opening up all of that pain and fear and anger to you” and are asking that they be heard. After devoting most of the book to talking, Oluo finishes with a chapter on action and its urgency. Action includes pressing for reform in schools, unions, and local governments; boycotting businesses that exploit people of color; contributing money to social justice organizations; and, most of all, voting for candidates who make “diversity, inclusion and racial justice a priority.”

A clear and candid contribution to an essential conversation.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-58005-677-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Seal Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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