Old-time agitprop from south of the border.

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A PRIMER FOR THE LOOKING-GLASS WORLD

Galeano (The Memory of Fire Trilogy, etc.) has set to paper an astonishingly straight-faced indictment of yanqui capitalism that—for all its freshness and wit—could well have been freeze-dried at about the time of Che Guevara's assassination.

The author views the world as essentially a matter of conflict between North and South, rich and poor, First World and Third World, big business and the small guy, and man against nature. Big business pollutes the Third World, uses their cheap labor, and sells them Big Macs, unleashing its power (and power is everything to Galeano) on the poor and voiceless. Galeano sees the US as heavy-handed and heavily armed—using its might to quell any uprising it doesn't like and to impose any government it prefers. The North he holds responsible for most social injustices—“free trade" being his euphemism for the slave trade. He also believes that whites were responsible for the annihilation of Jews, Gypsies, blacks, and gays during the Holocaust. Hitler, he points out, sterilized Gypsies—not very different, he believes, from the sterilizations performed in America during the 1930s on criminals, blacks, and alcoholics. Yet Americans, he believes, feel inexplicably superior. Blacks have been treated poorly in both the northern and southern hemispheres; dark-skinned black or Indian Brazilians form an underclass, rarely seen in the media or at universities. The author writes of the Argentine death squads, and he sees drug trafficking as a plot of the banks and gun manufacturers: "An illegal industry of death thus serves the legal industry of death." Galeano brings an almost Manichean dualism to his disquisitions on stock markets, capitalism, unemployment, nuclear arms—-and much, much more.

Old-time agitprop from south of the border.

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2000

ISBN: 0-8050-6375-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2000

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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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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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