A must-read for all concerned with civil rights and social justice in modern America.

AMERICA ON FIRE

THE UNTOLD HISTORY OF POLICE VIOLENCE AND BLACK REBELLION SINCE THE 1960S

Thought-provoking examination of “the cycle,” whereby minority protests against police brutality beget only more violence.

Yale historian Hinton focuses largely on Black communities. Early on, she recounts the history of lynch mobs across the country, reacting to Black advances in economic well-being and civil rights through armed violence, “a means to police the activities of Black people and to limit their access to jobs, leisure, franchise and to the political sphere.” In time, police forces came to do this work, and the result, “especially between 1968 and 1972,” was “internal violence on a scale not seen since the Civil War.” In a pattern all too familiar to minority citizens and, after the murder of George Floyd in 2020, to everyone with the means to see, the police typically react with more violence when some previous act of their violence is called into question. This is in some measure, by Hinton’s account, because of easily exploited calls on the parts of politicians and some voters for “law and order,” which in turn hinges on White fears “that Black people might rise up in violence,” fears that began with the first enslaved Black person on the continent. The cycle of public rebellions begins, as the author sharply describes it, with the police interfering with some ordinary activity, whether skateboarding or drinking in a park, and then confronting other young people who arrive to aid their peers. That cycle, Hinton persuasively argues, “began with the police.” Here she quotes James Baldwin, who noted that police rampaged minority communities “like an occupying soldier in a bitterly hostile country.” Among Hinton’s many villains are one-time Florida state’s attorney Janet Reno, who declined to prosecute “police officers who violently attacked or killed Black residents.” Other attorneys have followed suit to this day—and so, Hinton’s well-reasoned and emphatically argued book has it, the cycle continues and shows no signs of abating.

A must-read for all concerned with civil rights and social justice in modern America.

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-63149-890-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Liveright/Norton

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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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 lucid, astute text that unpacks the myths of Russian history to help explain present-day motivations and actions.

THE STORY OF RUSSIA

An expert on Russia delivers a crucially relevant study of a country that has been continuously “subjected to the vicissitudes of ruling ideologies.”

Wolfson History Prize winner Figes, one of the world’s leading authorities on Russian history and culture, shows how, over centuries, Russian autocrats have manipulated intertwined layers of mythology and history to suit their political and imperial purposes. Regarding current affairs, the author argues convincingly that to understand Putin’s aggressive behavior toward Ukraine and other neighboring nations, it is essential to grasp how Russia has come to see itself within the global order, especially in Asia and Europe. Figes emphasizes the intensive push and pull between concepts of East and West since the dubious founding of Kievan Rus, “the first Russian state,” circa 980. Russia’s geography meant it had few natural boundaries and was vulnerable to invasion—e.g., by the Mongols—and its mere size often required strong, central military control. It was in Moscow’s interests to increase its territorial boundaries and keep its neighbors weak, a strategy still seen today. Figes explores the growth of the “patrimonial autocracy” and examines how much of the mechanics of the country’s autocracy, bureaucracy, military structure, oligarchy, and corruption were inherited from three centuries of Mongol rule. From Peter the Great to Catherine the Great to Alexander II (the reformer who freed the serfs) and through the Bolsheviks to Stalin: In most cases, everything belonged to the state, and there were few societal institutions to check that power. “This imbalance—between a dominating state and a weak society—has shaped the course of Russian history,” writes the author in a meaningful, definitive statement. Today, Putin repudiates any hint of Westernizing influences (Peter the Great) while elevating the Eastern (Kievan Rus, the Orthodox Church). In that, he is reminiscent of Stalin, who recognized the need for patriotic fervor and national myths and symbols to unite and ensure the oppression of the masses.

A lucid, astute text that unpacks the myths of Russian history to help explain present-day motivations and actions.

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-2507-9689-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Metropolitan/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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