A lively, readable story that nicely complicates the view of racial and ethnic relations in the South of old.

ECONOMY HALL

Journalist and novelist Shaik blows the dust off the ancient records of an African American society, revealing a forgotten past.

The Société d’Economie et d’Assistance Mutuelle, born in 19th-century New Orleans, was dedicated to benevolent causes of tremendous political implication, including the right of education and the franchise. Its members—all men—“rejected racism and colorism,” a natural outcome of the fact that so many of them were of mixed African and European heritage, the vaunted “Creoles” of the city’s storied past. The “Economistes” who are revealed through contemporary journals kept by official recorders—and from which Shaik works—have mostly French and Spanish surnames, but it is telling that a later president of the organization bore the name Cohen; his father was Jewish and mother, Black. As one member said in the post-Reconstruction era, the Société “should be able to receive Jews and Chinese” who applied for membership. Its headquarters destroyed by hurricanes half a century ago, the Société performed many functions: It was a place for members to gather to read, smoke, drink, play billiards, and otherwise socialize, but it was also a center for a business and intellectual community that advanced the causes of “free men of color.” That advancement met with powerful resistance, particularly after the Civil War, when lynchings and other assaults on the Black community became common as a means of terrorizing it into accepting second-class status. One particularly terrible incident involved city police officers who shot African Americans who were carrying a Union flag. Soon thereafter, the organization was almost co-opted by Whites, who founded a rival organization called, misleadingly, the Economy Mutual Aid Association. In a richly detailed, fluent narrative, Shaik sadly observes that, Reconstruction having failed dismally, many of the members of the Société took their own lives. Even so, the organization carried on to make significant contributions, including giving a young musician named Louis Armstrong a start.

A lively, readable story that nicely complicates the view of racial and ethnic relations in the South of old.

Pub Date: Feb. 25, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-917860-80-5

Page Count: 504

Publisher: The Historic New Orleans Collection

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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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 cogent overview of the court’s crucial role, the application of which is sure to be discussed among scholars.

THE AUTHORITY OF THE COURT AND THE PERIL OF POLITICS

Why the Supreme Court deserves the public’s trust.

Based on his 2021 lecture at Harvard Law School, Supreme Court Justice Breyer offers a selected history of court cases, a defense of judicial impartiality, and recommendations for promoting the public’s respect for and acceptance of the role of the judiciary in the future. The author regrets that many Americans see the justices as “unelected political officials or ‘junior varsity’ politicians themselves, rather than jurists,” asserting that “nearly all” justices apply “the basic same interpretive tools” to decide a case: “They will consider the statute’s text, its history, relevant legal tradition, precedents, the statute’s purposes (or the values that underlie it), and the relevant consequences.” Although Breyer maintains that all try to avoid the influence of ideology or political philosophy, he acknowledges that suggesting “a total and clean divorce between the Court and politics is not quite right either,” since a justice’s background, education, and experiences surely affect their views, especially when considering the consequences of a decision. The judicial process, Breyer explains, begins as a conference held once or twice each week where substantive discussion leads to preliminary conclusions. Sometimes, in order to find a majority, the court will take a minimalist perspective, allowing those who differ “on the broader legal questions to come together in answering narrower ones.” Noting that, in 2016, only 1 in 4 Americans could name the three branches of federal government, Breyer suggests a revival of civics education in schools so that students can learn how government works and what the rule of law is. He believes that confidence in government will result from citizens’ participation in public life: by voting, taking part in local governance such as school boards, and resolving their differences through argument, debate, cooperation, and compromise, all of which are “the embodiment of the democratic ideal.”

A cogent overview of the court’s crucial role, the application of which is sure to be discussed among scholars.

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-674-26936-1

Page Count: 104

Publisher: Harvard Univ.

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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