A timely, sure-to-be controversial take on a problem that has no easy resolution.




A Hudson Institute scholar examines the enduring tension between the government’s need to preserve certain secrets and the role of a free press.

In December 2005, basing its article on leaked documents, the New York Times reported the details of a National Security Agency program to tap al-Qaeda phone calls and e-mails, which the paper characterized as unambiguously illegal. President Bush called the decision to publish “shameful.” Schoenfeld (The Return of Anti-Semitism, 2004) insists that the Times should have been prosecuted for this breach of security and for its subsequent decision to print the particulars of an intelligence program tracking terrorist financing. First Amendment absolutists, once apprised of the author’s conclusion, will likely ignore the rest of the book—which is a shame, because they’ll miss an intellectually muscular argument that chisels away at some cherished myths. Fully aware of the need for transparency in a vibrant democracy, and cognizant of the state’s duty to protect its citizens, Schoenfeld understands that neither the government, with its inclination to overclassify and penchant for selective, self-interested leaking, nor the press, with its competitive imperatives, is a wholly clean actor in the ongoing contest between the public’s right to know and its equally valid interest in security. As backdrop to his argument in favor of more stringent security and to legal proceedings that might extend to journalists, the author offers an efficient survey of famously unauthorized press disclosures, including the 1970s cases of Daniel Ellsberg and the 1985 case of Samuel Morison, the only successful prosecution—for reasons Schoenfeld makes clear—of a leaker in U.S. history. Throughout, the author relies on pertinent statutory and case law to demonstrate that the rules clearly contemplate criminal prosecutions covering journalists, notwithstanding any chilling effect on the press. Despite his predilections, Schoenfeld wisely counsels discretion, urging the government to distinguish between what’s right and proper from what’s wise and prudent, and for the press to understand that public tolerance of heedless behavior has limits.

A timely, sure-to-be controversial take on a problem that has no easy resolution.

Pub Date: May 24, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-393-07648-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2010

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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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A clear and candid contribution to an essential conversation.


Straight talk to blacks and whites about the realities of racism.

In her feisty debut book, Oluo, essayist, blogger, and editor at large at the Establishment magazine, writes from the perspective of a black, queer, middle-class, college-educated woman living in a “white supremacist country.” The daughter of a white single mother, brought up in largely white Seattle, she sees race as “one of the most defining forces” in her life. Throughout the book, Oluo responds to questions that she has often been asked, and others that she wishes were asked, about racism “in our workplace, our government, our homes, and ourselves.” “Is it really about race?” she is asked by whites who insist that class is a greater source of oppression. “Is police brutality really about race?” “What is cultural appropriation?” and “What is the model minority myth?” Her sharp, no-nonsense answers include talking points for both blacks and whites. She explains, for example, “when somebody asks you to ‘check your privilege’ they are asking you to pause and consider how the advantages you’ve had in life are contributing to your opinions and actions, and how the lack of disadvantages in certain areas is keeping you from fully understanding the struggles others are facing.” She unpacks the complicated term “intersectionality”: the idea that social justice must consider “a myriad of identities—our gender, class, race, sexuality, and so much more—that inform our experiences in life.” She asks whites to realize that when people of color talk about systemic racism, “they are opening up all of that pain and fear and anger to you” and are asking that they be heard. After devoting most of the book to talking, Oluo finishes with a chapter on action and its urgency. Action includes pressing for reform in schools, unions, and local governments; boycotting businesses that exploit people of color; contributing money to social justice organizations; and, most of all, voting for candidates who make “diversity, inclusion and racial justice a priority.”

A clear and candid contribution to an essential conversation.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-58005-677-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Seal Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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