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A thoughtful anecdotal study of protest in our time.

Take a knee, everyone, and start a revolution.

NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick did not act impulsively when, in 2016, he knelt down on one knee to protest police violence and racism. He had a long conversation with another NFL player and former Green Beret soldier, who suggested that the protest would be more visible and more meaningful than if Kaepernick simply refused to stand during the playing of the national anthem. “That was, it is safe to say now, a miscalculation,” writes Zirin, sports editor for the Nation. The year 2016 witnessed the rise of Donald Trump, “unrepentantly divisive and proudly bigoted,” who would go on to reveal his true racist colors the following year at Charlottesville; with Trump, a flood tide of White resentment and anti-Black acts would overwhelm the country. In response, as Zirin chronicles, players and protestors of many ethnicities emulated Kaepernick, sometimes courting significant trouble in doing so. These included a high school class of student athletes who collectively decided to take the knee in racially troubled Minneapolis, a cheerleader who acted alone in doing so, a Black student athlete in a mostly White community in New York who, appalled that the Confederate flag was being flown “as an all-purpose symbol of white supremacy,” launched a protest that caught on among young people: “I’m getting recognized for football,” he reasoned, “why can’t I get recognized for speaking?” Zirin closes his account, which is more in the way of vivid character sketches than anything driven by a governing thesis, with a conversation with John Carlos, who famously raised a fist in a Black Power salute at the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games and who sagely counsels, “Love thyself. Love thy neighbor. Set a precedent and let them know that we are not the negative force in society. We are the positive force.”

A thoughtful anecdotal study of protest in our time.

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-62097-675-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: The New Press

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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Maher calls out idiocy wherever he sees it, with a comedic delivery that veers between a stiletto and a sledgehammer.

The comedian argues that the arts of moderation and common sense must be reinvigorated.

Some people are born snarky, some become snarky, and some have snarkiness thrust upon them. Judging from this book, Maher—host of HBO’s Real Time program and author of The New New Rules and When You Ride Alone, You Ride With bin Laden—is all three. As a comedian, he has a great deal of leeway to make fun of people in politics, and he often delivers hilarious swipes with a deadpan face. The author describes himself as a traditional liberal, with a disdain for Republicans (especially the MAGA variety) and a belief in free speech and personal freedom. He claims that he has stayed much the same for more than 20 years, while the left, he argues, has marched toward intolerance. He sees an addiction to extremism on both sides of the aisle, which fosters the belief that anyone who disagrees with you must be an enemy to be destroyed. However, Maher has always displayed his own streaks of extremism, and his scorched-earth takedowns eventually become problematic. The author has something nasty to say about everyone, it seems, and the sarcastic tone starts after more than 300 pages. As has been the case throughout his career, Maher is best taken in small doses. The book is worth reading for the author’s often spot-on skewering of inept politicians and celebrities, but it might be advisable to occasionally dip into it rather than read the whole thing in one sitting. Some parts of the text are hilarious, but others are merely insulting. Maher is undeniably talented, but some restraint would have produced a better book.

Maher calls out idiocy wherever he sees it, with a comedic delivery that veers between a stiletto and a sledgehammer.

Pub Date: May 21, 2024

ISBN: 9781668051351

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2024

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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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