A must-read for policy wonks and a good primer on how American power works beyond our borders.

CONFRONT AND CONCEAL

OBAMA'S SECRET WARS AND SURPRISING USE OF AMERICAN POWER

A bracing rejoinder to those who think Barack Obama is a wimp, to say nothing of anti-American.

Readers who worry about the proper limits of executive power, on the other hand, will keep on worrying after reading New York Times correspondent Sanger’s (The Inheritance: The World Obama Confronts and the Challenges to American Power, 2009) account of just how far-reaching President Obama’s search for America’s enemies has been. That account begins not with grisly wetwork, though there’s plenty of that, but instead with a worm, developed by “a small team of computer warriors at Fort Meade and their counterparts, half a world away, inside a military intelligence agency that Israel barely acknowledges exists.” The worm’s targets were the computer-controlled centrifuges enriching uranium for Iran’s nuclear program. That sort of use of power arguably befits the winner of a Nobel Peace Prize, but what of the heavier ordinance required to, say, “disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al-Qaeda,” as the military mantra has it? As Sanger carefully relates, that’s a difficult dance: President Obama may profess, for instance, confidence that Pakistan can keep its nuclear arsenal out of the hands of militants, but he has to verify more than trust, no easy matter when relations between the United States and Pakistan are perhaps at their lowest point in history. The author provides plenty of intriguing news, from the conduct of secret operations within Afghanistan to the dispatch of Osama bin Laden. On the latter matter, he hazards that there was never any question but that bin Laden would be killed and his body secretly disposed of. No one in the administration wanted a grave that would become a site of pilgrimage, nor an endless trial, either. President Obama’s foreign policy, it becomes clear here, is tougher than his mild-mannered, even professorial mien might let on—and particularly in the case not just of obvious enemies such as the Taliban, but also of less obvious ones such as China’s People’s Liberation Army.

A must-read for policy wonks and a good primer on how American power works beyond our borders.

Pub Date: June 5, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-71802-0

Page Count: 498

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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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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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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