Sure not to please deans or development officers, Greenberg’s heavy-handed but well-reasoned attack on the big-science...




A broad assault on the business of doing science in America, which, the author argues, prizes profit and professional advancement over knowledge.

That emphasis, science journalist Greenberg holds, regularly yields ethical lapses in violation of the spirit of science, which is supposed to value critical inquiry and the search for truth. Reagan’s science advisors, for instance, knew that the Star Wars missile-defense program was based on flawed assumptions that would make its implementation all but impossible, but they kept their mouths shut. Rushing to cash in on the human genome bonanza, University of Pennsylvania researchers took a few experimental shortcuts that led to the death of a human subject—not an isolated instance. Greenberg writes, provocatively, that “the scientific gold rush left behind a dead body and revelations of indifference to ethical safeguards and deep concessions to the money chase.” In the Eisenhower era, scientists cooked up tales of Soviet scientific supremacy, touching off a massive wave of federal spending, despite evidence that funding had declined in the USSR. And so on. The irony of it all, Greenberg observes, is that there has never been a shortage of federal money available for scientific research, even in times of austerity and libertarian rumblings from the likes of Newt Gingrich and his Republican-radical cronies; in the late 1990s, that funding soared, amounting to grants of more than $25 billion in 1998 alone. Still, he suggests, the scientific establishment has become so used to fat budgets and the absence of accountability that much of its effort is devoted not to research, but to lobbying for still greater access to the public trough. Greenberg urges increased oversight of science at all levels—and a more critical approach to its claims made by the media and government.

Sure not to please deans or development officers, Greenberg’s heavy-handed but well-reasoned attack on the big-science machine merits attention.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-226-30634-8

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Univ. of Chicago

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2001

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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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