A personal, informative portrayal of a unique New York community.

THE HILL

Debut author Schafer presents a memoir of time spent with New York City’s homeless.

On Thanksgiving evening in 1990, a reproduction of a Lakota tepee went up among a homeless encampment near the Manhattan Bridge. The encampment was known as The Hill. Those who put up the structure were, however, not the typical residents. The author and her partner, Nick Fracaro, had decided to set up their tepee as a way to commemorate the 1890 massacre at Wounded Knee. The event eventually took on a life of its own. Not only did the tent remain standing, it became a gateway for getting to know the community of The Hill. Although the couple kept their apartment in Brooklyn, they wound up spending a lot of time among the locals. The Hill was home to heroin addicts, drunks, and formerly incarcerated people. Of course these were also people with families, pasts, and stories to tell. As the author states, “Generally, The Hill is a sad place.” This was often due to the fact that the “need for drug-money is all-powerful.” Still, high school students, tourists, and the media came to visit. It all comes to life in this collection of journal entries, photographs, newspaper clippings, and other miscellanea. Rather than provide an overarching statement on homelessness, the book lets the author’s experiences speak for themselves—a powerful statement that doesn’t force an agenda. From Juan, a pushover crack addict, to Mr. Lee, who diligently tends to his own shack, the individuals are as unique as they are tragic. For those on the Hill with nowhere else to go, “There is no option like ‘giving up,’ only completing one’s destiny.” The reader comes to understand how “the future is not a concept on The Hill. Anything beyond today is a mystery.” Some entries, such as the author’s attempts to secure grant funding, are, naturally, not quite as interesting. Nevertheless, the material forms a highly readable firsthand account that is neither overly sentimental nor dismissive. The work features sketches by the author, usually portraits of residents of the Hill, and includes no-frills photos by Morton and Sterzing.

A personal, informative portrayal of a unique New York community.

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-57027-384-1

Page Count: 216

Publisher: Autonomedia

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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A scattershot exercise in preaching to the choir.

THE WAR ON THE WEST

A British journalist fulminates against Black Lives Matter, critical race theory, and other threats to White privilege.

“There is an assault going on against everything to do with the Western world—its past, present, and future.” So writes Spectator associate editor Murray, whose previous books have sounded warnings against the presumed dangers of Islam and of non-Western immigration to the West. As the author argues, Westerners are supposed to take in refugees from Africa, Asia, and Latin America while being “expected to abolish themselves.” Murray soon arrives at a crux: “Historically the citizens of Europe and their offspring societies in the Americas and Australasia have been white,” he writes, while the present is bringing all sorts of people who aren’t White into the social contract. The author also takes on the well-worn subject of campus “wokeness,” a topic of considerable discussion by professors who question whether things have gone a bit too far; indeed, the campus is the locus for much of the anti-Western sentiment that Murray condemns. The author’s arguments against reparations for past damages inflicted by institutionalized slavery are particularly glib. “It comes down to people who look like the people to whom a wrong was done in history receiving money from people who look like the people who may have done the wrong,” he writes. “It is hard to imagine anything more likely to rip apart a society than attempting a wealth transfer based on this principle.” Murray does attempt to negotiate some divides reasonably, arguing against “exclusionary lines” and for Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s call for a more vigorous and welcoming civil culture. Too often, however, the author falters, as when he derides Gen. Mark Milley for saying, “I want to understand white rage. And I’m white”—perhaps forgetting the climacteric White rage that Milley monitored on January 6, 2021.

A scattershot exercise in preaching to the choir.

Pub Date: April 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-316202-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Broadside Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2022

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A deceptively slender but rich argument in favor of conserving liberal ideals—and liberal government.

LIBERALISM AND ITS DISCONTENTS

The renowned political scientist and philosopher considers classical liberalism and the broad range of enemies arrayed against it.

“By ‘liberalism,’ ” writes Fukuyama, “I refer to the doctrine…that argued for the limitation of the powers of governments through law and ultimately constitutions, creating institutions protecting the rights of individuals living under their jurisdiction.” Born of events such as the English civil war and the Enlightenment, this liberalism also encouraged diversity of thought, religion, and ethnicity, placing it squarely in the crosshairs of today’s authoritarian nationalists, not least Donald Trump. Fukuyama has often been identified with conservative causes, but his thinking here is democratic to the core, and he has no use for such pathetic lies as Trump’s insistence that the 2020 election was stolen. That said, the author notes that liberalism has many enemies on both the left and the right for numerous real yet correctable failings. The neoliberalism that has emerged over the past couple of generations has accelerated inequality, and numerous institutions have been eroded while others, such as the Electoral College, have been revealed to be anti-democratic. Both left and right, the author argues, have trouble accepting that governing over diversity, the hallmark of liberalism, means governing over many ethnic and national groups, strata of income, and competing interests. He adds, however, “Left-of-center voters…remain much more diverse” in political outlook. Essential to a liberal society, Fukuyama insists, is the right to vote: “Voting rights are fundamental rights that need to be defended by the power of the national government.” While he insists that individual rights take precedence over group rights, he also observes that the social contract demands citizen participation. To the conservative charge that the social contract is one thing but the “common moral horizon” another, he answers that yes, liberalism does not insist on a single morality—which “is indeed a feature and not a bug.”

A deceptively slender but rich argument in favor of conserving liberal ideals—and liberal government.

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-374-60671-8

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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