There’s not much hard news in Brock’s account of “the last battle of the Clinton Wars,” but it’s a useful casebook on how...



That “vast right-wing conspiracy” Hillary Clinton warned about all those years ago? It’s real. And then some.

So writes Brock (The Republican Noise Machine: Right-Wing Media and How It Corrupts Democracy, 2004, etc.), who was notoriously part of it, the author of the “bit nutty and a bit slutty” slur campaign against Anita Hill. Since then, as he recounted in his 2002 memoir Blinded by the Right, he had a road-to-Damascus (or D.C.) moment and founded the Democratic PAC American Bridge, which has a favorite daughter in Clinton. In his role as activist and media critic and watchdog—he also founded Media Matters—Brock here charts the evolution of a well-funded (courtesy of the Koch brothers and their ilk) right-wing information/misinformation/disinformation machine that saw its first real coup in the swift boating of John Kerry. He argues that the Dems did it all wrong by refusing to dignify that whisper-and-shout campaign with a response; just so, without naming too many names, he wishes that they’d smack some of the Benghazi/Hillary hater crowd down with a few well-pointed barbs: “Hillary’s email practices didn’t break any rules—but Jeb Bush’s did.” Granted that Brock’s is a thoroughly partisan approach, a student of the modern media could do worse than read along with him and wonder whether the New York Times really doesn’t have it in for Clinton, who, as first lady, senator, secretary of state, and now presidential candidate, can’t seem to catch a break with the Gray Lady. Blame some of it on Howell Raines and some on Bill Safire—though it has to be said that the Clintons have a habit of drawing negative attention in any event, a matter that Brock shrugs off. Closing with suitable fire and brimstone, the author hints that he’s got something really juicy in the wings to shake up the race, so stay tuned.

There’s not much hard news in Brock’s account of “the last battle of the Clinton Wars,” but it’s a useful casebook on how big-money politics and political operators work.

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4555-3376-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Twelve

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 11

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2019

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller


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

Did you like this book?

A clear and candid contribution to an essential conversation.


Straight talk to blacks and whites about the realities of racism.

In her feisty debut book, Oluo, essayist, blogger, and editor at large at the Establishment magazine, writes from the perspective of a black, queer, middle-class, college-educated woman living in a “white supremacist country.” The daughter of a white single mother, brought up in largely white Seattle, she sees race as “one of the most defining forces” in her life. Throughout the book, Oluo responds to questions that she has often been asked, and others that she wishes were asked, about racism “in our workplace, our government, our homes, and ourselves.” “Is it really about race?” she is asked by whites who insist that class is a greater source of oppression. “Is police brutality really about race?” “What is cultural appropriation?” and “What is the model minority myth?” Her sharp, no-nonsense answers include talking points for both blacks and whites. She explains, for example, “when somebody asks you to ‘check your privilege’ they are asking you to pause and consider how the advantages you’ve had in life are contributing to your opinions and actions, and how the lack of disadvantages in certain areas is keeping you from fully understanding the struggles others are facing.” She unpacks the complicated term “intersectionality”: the idea that social justice must consider “a myriad of identities—our gender, class, race, sexuality, and so much more—that inform our experiences in life.” She asks whites to realize that when people of color talk about systemic racism, “they are opening up all of that pain and fear and anger to you” and are asking that they be heard. After devoting most of the book to talking, Oluo finishes with a chapter on action and its urgency. Action includes pressing for reform in schools, unions, and local governments; boycotting businesses that exploit people of color; contributing money to social justice organizations; and, most of all, voting for candidates who make “diversity, inclusion and racial justice a priority.”

A clear and candid contribution to an essential conversation.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-58005-677-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Seal Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

Did you like this book?