A thoughtful, though ultimately unpersuasive, approach to Middle East peace.



Debut author Hutter offers a hopeful solution to the violent conflict between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority. 

Many people consider this long-running dispute to be fundamentally intractable, but the author writes that he finds reason for optimism in historical examples—and what he sees as the nature of religion itself. He first establishes the historical context in which the crisis emerged in the 20th century, when Jewish people fled to the Middle East to establish a sanctuary from oppression. Israel’s statehood was interpreted as a threat by the Palestinians and the Muslim community at large, who saw it as an “utterly unacceptable outrage” manufactured by colonial powers, Hutter says. However, he asserts that the Palestinian community, and Muslims at large, were insufficiently empathetic to the plight of Jews, whose existence as a people was endangered. The author goes on to say that both religions contain deep reserves of compassion and the will necessary for reconciliation—theological virtues that have appeared time and time again throughout history. This “peace potential,” he points out, is a feature of all three major Abrahamic faiths, citing as evidence a meeting between the grand imam of the Al Azhar Mosque in Cairo and Pope Francis in 2016. Hutter makes several concrete and refreshingly original political proposals in this book; he advocates an arrangement that would permit the sharing of the great “Noble” shrine al-Haram al-Sharif (aka the Temple Mount) in Jerusalem, and another that addresses the incorporation of controversial Jewish settlements into a new Palestinian state. However, the crux of any lasting détente, he avers, can’t only be political, but also must involve public declarations of religious respect, including mutual expressions of empathy and contrition. The author lucidly chronicles the long arc of the conflict, discussing the history of relations between devotees of the three Abrahamic religions. His approach is eclectically multidisciplinary, which is unsurprising, given that Hutter is a Catholic theologian, psychotherapist, and Sufi master. However, even he acknowledges that his proposals may strike others as akin to a “fairy tale,” due to the animosity that exists on both sides of the conflict. 

A thoughtful, though ultimately unpersuasive, approach to Middle East peace. 

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4808-7242-4

Page Count: 312

Publisher: Archway Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 1, 2019

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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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