A lively, fair-minded and brisk post-mortem.

COLLISION 2012

OBAMA VS. ROMNEY AND THE FUTURE OF ELECTIONS IN AMERICA

Well-documented, blow-by-blow account of the recent presidential election in all its benumbing, however significant and transformative, detail.

Washington Post chief correspondent Balz's book on those fisticuffs is a sequel, he writes, to The Battle for America 2008. The author provides an excellent record of what both candidates’ strategies were, what they needed to deliver to a vastly changing America and how they ultimately fared in the electorate. Balz evidently took copious notes as well as conducted myriad interviews, then and now. The chronicles of his discussions with some of the defeated Republicans, such as Newt Gingrich, are particularly valuable, giving the author a chance to ask: What were they thinking? Indeed, the election’s tone of “nuttiness” was set early on by the protracted process of selecting the Republican front-runner long before President Barack Obama had to get involved; the sideshows concerning Gingrich’s exploding cigars, Tim Pawlenty’s “Obamneycare” and Rick Perry’s “little brain fart” during the Michigan TV debate get the meatiest chapters. The choosing of Romney’s running mate garners a thorough going-over, though there is little on the vice-presidential debates. Indeed, after rehearsing the dueling conventions' highlights (the empty chair, Bill Clinton), Romney’s secretive “47 Percent Solution,” Obama’s lackluster showing at the Denver debate and the October Surprise (in the form of Hurricane Sandy), Balz ties up the actual election rather hastily. Still, he brings out the important shifts in the election process: technology as the key player, the campaigns' all-too-easy use of disguised money, the discrepancy of polls and the rashly high expectations of the Republicans, founded on a willful disregard for reality. Balz’s January 2013 interview with Romney forms a surprisingly touching curtain to the whole spectacle, revealing just how pessimistic the candidate himself was all along.

A lively, fair-minded and brisk post-mortem.

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-670-02594-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2013

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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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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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