RESURRECTION

THE STRUGGLE FOR A NEW RUSSIA

It would be hard for New Yorker writer Remnick to do anything quite as good as his Pulitzer Prizewinning Lenin's Tomb (1993), but his study of Russia since 1991 shows all the restless intelligence, hard work, and fine writing that made that work so memorable. He begins with the meeting of leaders of 11 republics in December 1991 at which the Soviet Union was dissolved and Mikhail Gorbachev awarded a pension of $140 a month. Yeltsin, who drank heavily throughout, had to be helped from the room. From then on, for a time, Russia was bereft of leadership. Yeltsin relied on an inept group of hard-line cronies; eventually brought himself to act against a recalcitrant and rebellious parliament; presided over an increasingly corrupt state; got drawn into a war against the Chechens that his minister of defense told him would be over in two hours, but which eventually caused more than 80,000 casualties; and by early 1996 had a popularity rating in the single digits and was trailing the leader of the Communist Party, a hack by the name of Zyuganov. The most remarkable part of Remnick's account is his story of the Russian election of 1996 and the clash between Yeltsin cronies like Aleksandr Korzhakov, the head of his personal security, who wanted to cancel the election, and business and liberal advisers, who wanted to use ``Western'' methods, including spending money freely, to win. The decision to allow the election to go ahead may have rested on Yeltsin's uncertainty about the army's loyalty and his own wish to be seen as a force for good in history. Perhaps surprisingly, Remnick ends on a relatively optimistic note: ``I see no reason,'' he says, ``that Russia cannot make a break with its absolutist past much in the way that Germany and Japan did after the war.'' Full of memorable portraits of those he met, full of nuance, full of empathy with the Russians, this is a worthy successor to Lenin's Tomb. (Author tour)

Pub Date: March 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-679-42377-X

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1997

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2019

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more