Learned and tightly focused—but also a demanding text requiring keen attention and an open mind.

PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS AND MAJORITY RULE

THE RISE, DEMISE, AND POTENTIAL RESTORATION OF THE JEFFERSONIAN ELECTORAL COLLEGE

The Electoral College works, most of the time—but that’s not good enough.

Foley (Chair, Constitutional Law/Ohio State Univ.; Ballot Battles: The History of Disputed Elections in the United States, 2016) offers a brief history of the Electoral College, a description of how it’s supposed to work, an analysis of its occasional failures to select the majority candidate, and suggestions about how to prevent breakdowns. In a text sometimes dense with detail, featuring numerous tables and charts, the author reminds us of several important points about the Electoral College: It was designed for a two-party system; the Founders wanted majority rule; the original (and somewhat hasty) 1787 conception was replaced with the 12th Amendment in 1803, an amendment that we still employ. Along the way, Foley provides information that will probably surprise some readers. For example, it was during the time of Andrew Jackson that we began moving toward a winner-take-all approach, even for candidates who received only a plurality, not a majority, of votes. In 1860, Lincoln received only about 40% of the popular vote—and “zero popular votes” in nine states in the South. Nonetheless, the process worked fairly well in the 20th century, with a couple of notable exceptions: the elections of 1992 (Clinton v. Bush) and 2000 (Bush v. Gore). In the latter case, writes the author, the system totally failed. In 2016, the result probably did not reflect the majority. Foley notes that most Americans want the majority candidate to win; to make that more certain, he suggests that states institute methods to ensure it. Among his ideas is what he calls “the majority-rule requirement”—voters, for example, could rank-order their choices (in a multicandidate race), thus ensuring an eventual majority winner.

Learned and tightly focused—but also a demanding text requiring keen attention and an open mind.

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-19-006015-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: Sept. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 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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A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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