A legal commentator's informative, highly readable account of a case that has been likened in significance to Brown v. Board...



A character-rich account of the 2003 landmark Lawrence v. Texas case in which the U.S. Supreme Court overturned its 1986 decision in the Bowers v. Hardwick sodomy case and effectively made same-sex sexual activity legal throughout the country.

Carpenter (Earl R. Larson Professor of Civil Rights and Civil Liberty Law/University of Minnesota Law School) demonstrates both the transformation in public thinking about homosexuality and the evolution of jurisprudence on sexuality. He opens with the night in 1998 when police in Harris County, Texas, entered the home of John Lawrence and arrested him and Tyron Garner on charges of sodomy; he follows the case through the various maneuverings necessary to take it to the Supreme Court. Found guilty by a justice of the peace, the men subsequently appeared before the Texas Criminal Court, which denied a request to dismiss the charges on Fourteenth Amendment equal protection grounds and on right to privacy grounds. A Texas Court of Appeals also rejected this argument, and after the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals refused to review the case, it headed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Lambda Legal, a national organization supporting gay and lesbian rights, led the challenge, supported by Jenner & Block, a legal firm with considerable Supreme Court experience. Carpenter's account is filled with relevant quotes by and colorful descriptions of the parties involved:  defendants, police, lawyers and civil rights activists, district attorneys and Texas judges, and most of all Supreme Court Justices. The author, who was present when the case was argued before the Supreme Court, is forthright in giving his personal impressions that day of the demeanor of Justices, lawyers, and concerned onlookers. He follows this with imagined scenes of how the Justices might have discussed the issues afterward, and then returns to the scene in the courtroom, three months later, when the decision was announced. Finally, he depicts reactions to the decision among gay-rights supporters and those like Justice Scalia who were outraged by it.

A legal commentator's informative, highly readable account of a case that has been likened in significance to Brown v. Board of Education and Gideon v. Wainwright.

Pub Date: March 12, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-393-06208-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012

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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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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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