A welcome modern rejoinder to classics such as God Is Red and Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.

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THE HEARTBEAT OF WOUNDED KNEE

NATIVE AMERICA FROM 1890 TO THE PRESENT

An Ojibwe novelist and historian delivers a politically charged, highly readable history of America’s Indigenous peoples after the end of the wars against them.

Native American history, Treuer (Prudence, 2015, etc.) provocatively reminds us, does not end at Wounded Knee, which is usually the last major event concerning Native people that non-Natives can recite. The population of those who identify as Native has increased tenfold since 1900; a third of them are under the age of 18 in a time when many other populations—including white Americans—are aging. “We seem to be everywhere,” writes the author, “and doing everything.” This is not for want of trying otherwise on the part of the federal government, which, at several points in the last 12 decades, has attempted to delist Indian populations and seize reservation lands. Treuer’s account includes many such maneuvers, such as the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, along with episodes of Native resistance that were not always successful. As he notes, for example, the American Indian Movement of the 1970s, born in the cities, often had trouble gaining a foothold on rural reservations such as Pine Ridge: “Despite its focus on reclaiming Indian pride by way of Indian cultures and ceremonies, and by privileging the old ways, reservation communities were not entirely sold on AIM.” Treuer has been through a tremendous amount of literature to write this book, but he’s also been out on the land talking with people in those communities, as with one tough Blackfoot elder he interviewed: “He had the clipped tones of the High Plains along with a kind of ‘Don’t fuck with me’ cadence that I always think of as ‘elderly Indian voice.’ ” Treuer closes his lucid account with a portrait of the “water keepers” who gathered from all over the continent in the hope of protecting Sioux lands against an oil pipeline that, for the moment, has been stalled in its tracks through their efforts.

A welcome modern rejoinder to classics such as God Is Red and Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-59463-315-7

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

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A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.

ECONOMIC DIGNITY

Noted number cruncher Sperling delivers an economist’s rejoinder to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Former director of the National Economic Council in the administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, the author has long taken a view of the dismal science that takes economic justice fully into account. Alongside all the metrics and estimates and reckonings of GDP, inflation, and the supply curve, he holds the great goal of economic policy to be the advancement of human dignity, a concept intangible enough to chase the econometricians away. Growth, the sacred mantra of most economic policy, “should never be considered an appropriate ultimate end goal” for it, he counsels. Though 4% is the magic number for annual growth to be considered healthy, it is healthy only if everyone is getting the benefits and not just the ultrawealthy who are making away with the spoils today. Defining dignity, admits Sperling, can be a kind of “I know it when I see it” problem, but it does not exist where people are a paycheck away from homelessness; the fact, however, that people widely share a view of indignity suggests the “intuitive universality” of its opposite. That said, the author identifies three qualifications, one of them the “ability to meaningfully participate in the economy with respect, not domination and humiliation.” Though these latter terms are also essentially unquantifiable, Sperling holds that this respect—lack of abuse, in another phrasing—can be obtained through a tight labor market and monetary and fiscal policy that pushes for full employment. In other words, where management needs to come looking for workers, workers are likely to be better treated than when the opposite holds. In still other words, writes the author, dignity is in part a function of “ ‘take this job and shove it’ power,” which is a power worth fighting for.

A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7987-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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No one’s mind will be changed by Karl’s book, but it’s a valuable report from the scene of an ongoing train wreck.

FRONT ROW AT THE TRUMP SHOW

The chief White House and Washington correspondent for ABC provides a ringside seat to a disaster-ridden Oval Office.

It is Karl to whom we owe the current popularity of a learned Latin term. Questioning chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, he followed up a perhaps inadvertently honest response on the matter of Ukrainian intervention in the electoral campaign by saying, “What you just described is a quid pro quo.” Mulvaney’s reply: “Get over it.” Karl, who has been covering Trump for decades and knows which buttons to push and which to avoid, is not inclined to get over it: He rightly points out that a reporter today “faces a president who seems to have no appreciation or understanding of the First Amendment and the role of a free press in American democracy.” Yet even against a bellicose, untruthful leader, he adds, the press “is not the opposition party.” The author, who keeps his eye on the subject and not in the mirror, writes of Trump’s ability to stage situations, as when he once called Trump out, at an event, for misrepresenting poll results and Trump waited until the camera was off before exploding, “Fucking nasty guy!”—then finished up the interview as if nothing had happened. Trump and his inner circle are also, by Karl’s account, masters of timing, matching negative news such as the revelation that Russia had interfered in the 2016 election with distractions away from Trump—in this case, by pushing hard on the WikiLeaks emails from the Democratic campaign, news of which arrived at the same time. That isn’t to say that they manage people or the nation well; one of the more damning stories in a book full of them concerns former Homeland Security head Kirstjen Nielsen, cut off at the knees even while trying to do Trump’s bidding.

No one’s mind will be changed by Karl’s book, but it’s a valuable report from the scene of an ongoing train wreck.

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-4562-2

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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