People like Bingham (b. 1963), who “missed the party,” may be astonished by aspects of this tumultuous story. Baby boomers...

WITNESS TO THE REVOLUTION

RADICALS, RESISTERS, VETS, HIPPIES, AND THE YEAR AMERICA LOST ITS MIND AND FOUND ITS SOUL

An engrossing oral history of the youth rebellion of the 1960s.

Former Newsweek White House correspondent Bingham (Class Action: The Story of Lois Jenson and the Landmark Case that Changed Sexual Harassment Law, 2002, etc.) interviewed some 100 activists, veterans, government officials, and others—all now in their 60s and 70s—to produce this remarkable account of the anti-war movement. “The cross-pollination of left-wing activists with hippie drifters and dropouts, who were all part of the same Great Refusal to conform, created a brand new rebel,” she writes. With a focus on the year 1969-1970—the “crescendo of the sixties, when years of civil disobedience and mass resistance erupted into anarchic violence”—Bingham captures telling moments (from campus protests to bombings, from Woodstock to My Lai) in the voices of those present. There are revealing stories about Weathermen on the lam, government sabotage and surveillance, courtroom theatrics, police riots, President Richard Nixon’s late-night meeting with protesters at the Lincoln Memorial, the Pentagon Papers, and the incessant organizing behind events that “would profoundly and permanently change the nation.” The cast is a who’s who of the ’60s: Daniel Ellsberg, Jane Fonda, Julius Lester, and others, from undercover FBI agents to rock musicians, most of whom offer sharp insights into the period. After all these years, many echo an LSD dealer’s comments: “We were young and naïve, and drunk on idealism.” “We were so arrogant,” says Weatherman Mark Rudd. Most share feminist Robin Morgan’s observation that in the civil rights and peace movements, “the human spirit was really at its best.” Weathermen founder Bill Ayers says he will apologize for his actions when Henry Kissinger says “what he did that was wrong, because he killed three million people, and I killed no one.”

People like Bingham (b. 1963), who “missed the party,” may be astonished by aspects of this tumultuous story. Baby boomers will find themselves infuriated once again by vivid accounts of the My Lai massacre, the Kent State and Jackson State shootings, and other tumultuous events.

Pub Date: June 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9318-9

Page Count: 656

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: April 7, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 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...

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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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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