Fans of Kiefer Sutherland, to say nothing of the X-Files and Terry Southern, will already know some of what Graff reveals...

RAVEN ROCK

THE STORY OF THE U.S. GOVERNMENT'S SECRET PLAN TO SAVE ITSELF—WHILE THE REST OF US DIE

When the missiles start raining down, don’t look for your senator. As this spry but sobering book reveals, government officials will already be tucked away underground, ready to legislate in the ashes.

Dwight Eisenhower had it right: in the event of nuclear war, the president counseled, “you might as well go out and shoot everyone you see and then shoot yourself.” Alas, that requires a resolve that our Congress may not possess. In any event, from the moment World War II ended, the government has busily made all kinds of contingency plans to ensure its continuity. One locus, as Graff (The Threat Matrix: The FBI at War in the Age of Terror, 2011, etc.) writes, is the Raven Rock of his title, an underground city that will serve as an alternate Pentagon in the case the original is destroyed. Other centers dot the mountainous country of Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Maryland, close to the major centers of commerce and government but tucked deep into granite and limestone. The desired continuity, as Graff notes, may be “of an idea larger than any single officeholder,” but of course officeholders have long lobbied for a place in the fortress just in case. By looking into just one dark corner of it, the author does a good job of showing the growth of the security state at large, none of which will make sensitive persons sleep any easier, especially with the nuclear clock now ticking so close to midnight. One particularly unsettling discovery is that the more money and power an agency has, the vaguer its purposes, as when the Office of Censorship changed its name to the Wartime Information Security Program and became nebulous in the bargain. Another is…well, just be glad that Richard Nixon never gave the order to launch.

Fans of Kiefer Sutherland, to say nothing of the X-Files and Terry Southern, will already know some of what Graff reveals here. For the rest, it’s a frightening eye-opener.

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4767-3540-5

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 7, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

No one’s mind will be changed by Karl’s book, but it’s a valuable report from the scene of an ongoing train wreck.

FRONT ROW AT THE TRUMP SHOW

The chief White House and Washington correspondent for ABC provides a ringside seat to a disaster-ridden Oval Office.

It is Karl to whom we owe the current popularity of a learned Latin term. Questioning chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, he followed up a perhaps inadvertently honest response on the matter of Ukrainian intervention in the electoral campaign by saying, “What you just described is a quid pro quo.” Mulvaney’s reply: “Get over it.” Karl, who has been covering Trump for decades and knows which buttons to push and which to avoid, is not inclined to get over it: He rightly points out that a reporter today “faces a president who seems to have no appreciation or understanding of the First Amendment and the role of a free press in American democracy.” Yet even against a bellicose, untruthful leader, he adds, the press “is not the opposition party.” The author, who keeps his eye on the subject and not in the mirror, writes of Trump’s ability to stage situations, as when he once called Trump out, at an event, for misrepresenting poll results and Trump waited until the camera was off before exploding, “Fucking nasty guy!”—then finished up the interview as if nothing had happened. Trump and his inner circle are also, by Karl’s account, masters of timing, matching negative news such as the revelation that Russia had interfered in the 2016 election with distractions away from Trump—in this case, by pushing hard on the WikiLeaks emails from the Democratic campaign, news of which arrived at the same time. That isn’t to say that they manage people or the nation well; one of the more damning stories in a book full of them concerns former Homeland Security head Kirstjen Nielsen, cut off at the knees even while trying to do Trump’s bidding.

No one’s mind will be changed by Karl’s book, but it’s a valuable report from the scene of an ongoing train wreck.

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-4562-2

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

A clear and candid contribution to an essential conversation.

SO YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT RACE

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

Did you like this book?

more