Read it for its reporting, not its insights—which are few.



D’Souza (Ronald Reagan, 1997, etc.) tells us what’s right, and what’s wrong, with our brave, new, prosperous world.

Folks are getting rich quick everywhere, thanks to a booming stock market and dross-to-gold Internet start-ups. And while America has always been rich, this rich is a new kind of rich—marked in part by the young super-rich, like 20-year-old Yale undergrad Joshua Newman, who runs a $6 million venture-capital fund. But the wealthy, D’Souza argues, are mired in moral quandaries: how did I get so lucky? Do I deserve these riches? The new wealth has done more than make a few millionaires feel guilty; it has also produced a larger critique of society. The stock-market boom and rampant consumer capitalism, say critics, are destroying American values—destroying the environment, tampering with religion, widening the gap between rich and poor. One-time ideological foes, like leftist Studs Terkel and conservative Gertrude Himmelfarb, can meet and agree on this much: our bank accounts are richer, but our society is poorer. And there’s another critique, less articulate, but no less heartfelt: the ones “left behind,” the Hollywood waitresses who aren’t making it on the silver screen, the college geeks who aren’t founding the next big Web site, are outraged and self-righteous. Why do they have to flip burgers while Julia Roberts suns at her pool? But capitalism is not all bad, D’Souza says, because even those waitresses who aren’t making millions still lead a pretty good life. They drive nice cars and have wide-screen TVs. Will these “consolation prize[s] . . . appease” them? D’Souza thinks not: the lower-middle classes won’t rise up in armed rebellion; they will sink into despair. His thesis is richly illustrated with fascinating anecdotes, but the yarns D’Souza tells fail to offer much in the way of prognosis, lending an unfinished quality to his overall portrait.

Read it for its reporting, not its insights—which are few.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2000

ISBN: 0-684-86814-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2000

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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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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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.


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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