If you’re taking bets on where the next war will break out, this is essential reading.

A RED LINE IN THE SAND

DIPLOMACY, STRATEGY, AND THE HISTORY OF WARS THAT COULD STILL HAPPEN

A look at the world’s flash points for conflict, whose number seems to be growing exponentially.

Andelman has long served as a foreign correspondent for the New York Times and CBS News. He also studied at Harvard with the diplomatic historian Ernest R. May and the one-time master of intelligent realpolitik Henry Kissinger. Both taught him how nations have used—and should use—“lines in the sand” to indicate that beyond a certain point, no foe shall pass, physically or metaphorically. Those lines, themselves metaphorical, were once fairly distinct and relatively few. In Africa 30 years ago, writes the author, there were just two, one of which “surrounded Libya and Qaddafi’s pernicious regime” while the other marked off Chad as a warning against Libyan incursion. Now, he writes, at least 250 million Africans live along flash points such as the ones that divide northern from southern Nigeria and mark off areas contested by groups such as Boko Haram and that are closely monitored by U.S. drones operating out of neighboring Niger. The best of these thou-shalt-not-cross zones are “skillfully drawn and quite clear in their intentions.” The old Iron Curtain might serve as an example, except that the current president of Hungary, Trump ally Viktor Orbán, has ordered a $500 million containment fence built along the border with Serbia, “more high-tech, even more secure than the barrier the Soviets once built along their red line with the West.” Its message: If you’re not Hungarian, stay out. Its subtext: We don’t care that the rest of Europe is “fully united and barrier-free,” especially in a time when nationalist movements are rising in response to non-European immigrants who are, yes, crossing red lines of their own. Andelman’s points are sometimes too repetitively made, but the central truth holds: Everywhere around the world, people are digging in, and there’s a fight sure to come.

If you’re taking bets on where the next war will break out, this is essential reading.

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64313-648-6

Page Count: 484

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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A lively and thoughtful memoir that, one hopes, will inspire readers to pursue activism in every realm of society.

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PERSIST

The Massachusetts senator and financial reformer recounts several of her good fights over the years.

Famous for being chided for “persisting” on the Senate floor, Warren is nearly a byword for the application of an unbending, if usually polite, feminism to the corridors of power. Though she has a schoolmarm-ish air—and indeed taught school for much of her life—she gladly owns up to liking a beer or two and enjoying a good brawl, and she’s a scrapper with a long memory. In 2008, when she shopped a proposal to found a federal agency that “could act as a watchdog to make sure that consumers weren’t getting cheated by financial institutions,” she encountered a congressman who “laughed in my face.” She doesn’t reveal his name, but you can bet he crosses the hall when she’s coming the other way. Warren does name other names, especially Donald Trump, who, with Republicans on the Hill, accomplished only one thing, namely “a $2 trillion tax cut that mostly benefited rich people.” Now that the Democrats are in power, the author reckons that the time is ripe to shake off the Trump debacle and build “a nation that works, not just for the rich and powerful but for everyone.” She identifies numerous areas that need immediate attention, from financial reform to bringing more women into the workplace and mandating equal pay for equal work. Warren premises some of these changes on increased taxes on the rich, happily citing a billionaire well known for insider trading, who complained of her, “This is the fucking American dream she is shitting on.” The author reverts to form: “Oh dear. Did I hit a nerve?” Warren’s common-sensical proposals on housing, infrastructure development, and civil rights merit attention, and her book makes for a sometimes-funny, sometimes–sharp-tongued pleasure.

A lively and thoughtful memoir that, one hopes, will inspire readers to pursue activism in every realm of society.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-79924-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Metropolitan/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: today

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A concise personal and scholarly history that avoids academic jargon as it illuminates emotional truths.

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ON JUNETEENTH

The Harvard historian and Texas native demonstrates what the holiday means to her and to the rest of the nation.

Initially celebrated primarily by Black Texans, Juneteenth refers to June 19, 1865, when a Union general arrived in Galveston to proclaim the end of slavery with the defeat of the Confederacy. If only history were that simple. In her latest, Gordon-Reed, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award, Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, and numerous other honors, describes how Whites raged and committed violence against celebratory Blacks as racism in Texas and across the country continued to spread through segregation, Jim Crow laws, and separate-but-equal rationalizations. As Gordon-Reed amply shows in this smooth combination of memoir, essay, and history, such racism is by no means a thing of the past, even as Juneteenth has come to be celebrated by all of Texas and throughout the U.S. The Galveston announcement, notes the author, came well after the Emancipation Proclamation but before the ratification of the 13th Amendment. Though Gordon-Reed writes fondly of her native state, especially the strong familial ties and sense of community, she acknowledges her challenges as a woman of color in a state where “the image of Texas has a gender and a race: “Texas is a White man.” The author astutely explores “what that means for everyone who lives in Texas and is not a White man.” With all of its diversity and geographic expanse, Texas also has a singular history—as part of Mexico, as its own republic from 1836 to 1846, and as a place that “has connections to people of African descent that go back centuries.” All of this provides context for the uniqueness of this historical moment, which Gordon-Reed explores with her characteristic rigor and insight.

A concise personal and scholarly history that avoids academic jargon as it illuminates emotional truths.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-63149-883-1

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Liveright/Norton

Review Posted Online: Feb. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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