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A penetrating profile of the Supreme Court’s longest-serving justice.

For Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, racism in America can never be expunged.

Analyzing speeches, court opinions, and Thomas’ writings, Robin (Political Science/Brooklyn Coll. and CUNY Graduate Center; The Reactionary Mind: Conservatism From Edmund Burke to Donald Trump, 2017, etc.) argues persuasively that Thomas’ right-wing conservatism and black nationalism make him “the most extreme justice on the Supreme Court.” Thomas, writes the author, believes “that racism is permanent, the state is ineffective, and politics is feeble.” Noting that he rejects “virtually all of Thomas’s views,” Robin warns against dismissing them, and he presents them in detail along with critiques from other justices and analysts. Central to Thomas’ beliefs is the valorization of the black male provider and protector, “a figure of authority whose word is law for the women and children under his care.” Black men, “stolid, moral, responsible, authoritative, upstanding,” are essential to the black community. For Thomas, white racism and liberal politics combine to undermine black interests. Blacks, therefore, “should cease to look to electoral politics as a means of bettering their situation; any involvement in electoral politics will only confirm white power and reinforce black powerlessness.” Efforts such as affirmative action, for example, reinforce black powerlessness by failing to treat blacks and whites as equals, defining blacks as “inferior and deficient.” When Thomas considers the incarceration rate for blacks and liberals’ cry for judicial and prison reform, he counters that “the racist dimensions of the carceral state” actually benefit African Americans: Harsh policing protects black neighborhoods from crime, and stringent punishment fosters law-abiding behavior. Adversity—even slavery and society under Jim Crow—“helps the black community develop its inner virtue and resolve.” Acknowledging that we are all trapped “in the same historical moment” as Thomas, Robin asks readers to examine the premises underlying their own social and political views. Thomas’ “beliefs are disturbing, even ugly,” Robin acknowledges; “his style is brutal. I want to make us sit with that discomfort rather than swat it away.”

A penetrating profile of the Supreme Court’s longest-serving justice.

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-62779-383-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Metropolitan/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 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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Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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