If much of what passes for foreign policy analysis is instant-formula baby food, this is the real thing and approaches developments in Russia over the past decade with refreshing if brutal candor. Simes, himself a Russian exile, was an advisor to Richard Nixon and arranged his last trips to Russia. It is a “profound misreading,” Simes contends, to think that the relationship with Russia will continue to be an “easy ride” for the US. Yeltsin’s reelection was not a “triumph of democracy,” and the Clinton administration does a significant disservice to the relationship and to its influence on Russia to pretend that it was. Indeed, Yeltsin has created a system in which “Al Capone would be more at home than Thomas Jefferson,” an oligarchy run by corrupt officials and industrialists which has alienated the people and done a rotten job of running the country. The bleakness of these views makes Simes’s own “cautious optimism” that much more surprising and perhaps persuasive. Despite an economic catastrophe in Russia more severe than the Great Depression in the US, he sees hope in the sheer extent of Russia’s resources, its well-trained labor force, its new entrepreneurial spirit, and the reluctance of the majority to contemplate a return to Soviet-style socialism. Which is not necessarily that good for the US: Simes believes that it is inevitable that Russia will increasingly direct its own path in foreign policy, particularly as it resolves its current economic difficulties, though for the time being it will be constrained by the need to retain Western support for its economy. He believes that the US, for its part, will need to show more understanding, more restraint, and less capriciousness in its foreign policy—which may be the one point at which the realism of the analysis becomes suspect. A bracing cold shower of a book, but all the more refreshing for it. (maps, not seen)

Pub Date: March 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-684-82716-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1999

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


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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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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