General but sometimes inspiring guidance on what humans might achieve, should we learn to get along.

An Anguished Cry For Our Endangered Planet

A concise, ambitious plan to save ourselves from ourselves.

Das understates his authority to write on global affairs: “I am not a man of letters, a diplomat...or a philosopher,” he claims. Yet his debut offers a fascinating perspective—that of a cardiologist, a Christian raised in India, and a father. Indeed, his young children’s questions prompted him to synthesize his “nonexpert” ideas on thwarting global destruction. He begins with a simple observation: Despite ethnic and physical differences, humans form a single species. For Das, this fact was reinforced during his harmonious years at a multifaith boarding school in Bangalore and in his medical school anatomy class. He combines religious and scientific views to encourage worldwide cooperation and understanding: “The human genome is written in the language of God...which evolved over hundreds of millions of years,” he writes, citing the geneticist Francis Collins. He contends that only by upholding this basic premise—we are one—can humans cease terrorizing each other and turn their attention toward healing the planet. These reflective, personal opening chapters of Das’ slim volume provide insightful reading and, in fact, contain the makings of a full memoir: a rich life story, engaging writing and a broad worldview. Yet in the book’s main sections, he adopts a more prescriptive tone. He calls for a 1,000-year plan, implemented in century-long chunks and overseen by a federation of democracies. In the more immediate future, he writes, we must achieve zero population growth, extensive synthetic food production, and “perfect waste management,” among other sweeping changes. Like other authors of similar tone and scope, Das provides plenty of detail on what ought to change, but less on how these goals might be reached. He does, however, propose some direction, including redoubled efforts to educate and empower women, and a global goods-and-services tax to fund new development programs. Unfortunately, age-old obstacles—the will of leaders to think beyond elections, businesses beyond profits, consumers beyond want—remain unaddressed and as insurmountable as ever.

General but sometimes inspiring guidance on what humans might achieve, should we learn to get along.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1492775027

Page Count: 82

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 12, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 19

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2019

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller


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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?