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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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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