An illuminating, you-are-there view of events on the ground in the turbulent 1960s.




A smart, readable survey, at once personal and universal, of a decade that is still under debate today.

Southern historian and journalist Gaillard (Writer in Residence/Univ. of South Alabama; Journey to the Wilderness: War, Memory, and a Southern Family's Civil War Letters, 2015, etc.) graduated from college “in the terrible year of 1968,” and he hit the ground running. He had been paying attention to the trends that were bringing change to the remotest corners of the South, wrought by politics as well as popular culture. Taking a broadly synoptic view, the author focuses on small moments that yielded huge effects, beginning with a Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina, where Franklin McCain and other college students politely but firmly refused to leave when ordered to do so: “They reveled in their moment of deliverance,” Gaillard writes, “but they knew already that this was something much bigger than themselves.” The battle against racial division quickly emerges as a major theme in Gaillard’s narrative, with mileposts such as Thurgood Marshall’s key role in Supreme Court decisions about how it wasn’t enough simply not to segregate; integration was required, too. Against this backdrop, and at some leisure in a long but not overlong book, the author examines the racial politics of leading political figures such as Barry Goldwater (“the philosophical abstraction of limited government held sway in his mind, and civil rights leaders, quite understandably, regarded Goldwater as an enemy”) and Lyndon Johnson, whose use of race in political calculus was not always effective. Gaillard provides an appreciative portrait of another McCain, namely John, and he takes sidelong looks at the music and cinema of the time, including one turning-point moment in which Dustin Hoffman, rather than Robert Redford, was given the lead in The Graduate: “the casting of the movie was a key to its successful blending of comedy, poignancy and social commentary.”

An illuminating, you-are-there view of events on the ground in the turbulent 1960s.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-58838-344-0

Page Count: 704

Publisher: NewSouth

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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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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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


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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