A first-person introduction to the mindset of the ``Jewish underground'' from a member who was involved in the notorious 1980 car bombing that blew off the legs of Nablus mayor Bassam Shaka. Why would an Orthodox Jew from America, a social worker and father of six children, engage in such an act? In part, Rapaport saw it as an act of reprisal for the murder of six Jewish students in Hebron by a PLO sniper—Shaka was a member of the PLO's National Guidance Committee—and enraged frustration at the Israeli government's perceived failure to act firmly against Palestinian terrorists in ``YOSH'' (the Hebrew acronym for Judaea and Samaria, or the West Bank). Rapaport also fervently believes that Jews' right to settle in YOSH is absolute, that violence is justified by historical claims to the land, and that history is rooted in God's promise of Israel to Abraham as recorded in Genesis. It never seems to occur to him that the Palestinians might have their own personal and historical claims to the West Bank. Very few of the letters printed here, which span the years from 1975 to 1996, really attempt to defend Rapaport's violent vigilantism. Most deal with the author's commitment to settlement (``We are acting in the name of and for an entire people'') and great love of his wife, children, and parents. Concerning the attack on Shaka, he apparently feels no ideological or moral qualms. In the last letter here, he even expresses ``understanding'' of (although he does not favor) the actions of Baruch Goldstein, the murderer of over 30 Palestinians in Hebron in 1994, and Yigal Amir, the assassin of Yitzhak Rabin. Though it initially crackles with ideological fervor, his prose ultimately becomes numbing, with a one- dimensional self-righteousness. One wonders why Helmreich (Sociology and Judaic Studies/City College of New York), who contributes a balanced introduction, chose so many of these letters, when a work half as long would have adequately presented Rapaport's constricted worldview.

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 1996

ISBN: 0-684-83180-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1996

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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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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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