Organizers will find much of this helpful and instructive, but for lay readers, it preaches to the choir.




A radical activist handbook reinforces the adage that a picture is worth 1,000 words.

This celebration of what the book calls “transformative organizing” represents a collaboration between social activist Jobin-Leeds, the co-chair of the Schott Foundation for Public Education, and the AgitArte artistic collective, with the former providing the textual narrative and the latter responsible for the visual complement: posters, photographs, and other pieces of art that are generally more galvanizing than the prose. There occasionally seems to be a disconnect, as well, as a chapter on “The Fight for the Soul of Public Education” finds the narrative focusing on Chicago, “the epicenter of this battle,” while illustrations highlight activism in Puerto Rico (where AgitArte is co-based), California, and Arizona. In addition to public education, the book highlights gay, prison, immigration, economic, and environmental activism, but one of its main lessons is that issues and answers are never confined to such neat categorical boxes. Thus, marchers for immigration reform take inspiration from the civil rights freedom marchers and talk of “coming out” as “illegals” like their LGBT counterparts. Similarly, the chapter on the Occupy movement addresses issues of racial and gender underrepresentation, as activist Joel Olson proclaims, “the key to building the 99 percent is Left colorblindness, and the key to overcoming it is to put the struggles of communities of color at the center of this movement.” As the afterword by Antonia Darder summarizes, “the underlying problem must be understood as racism in a capitalist society.” Where the art is consistently and effectively provocative, much of the prose is perfunctory, featuring lots of quotes, guides, and summaries rather than more vivid storytelling that might prove more of a match for the art.

Organizers will find much of this helpful and instructive, but for lay readers, it preaches to the choir.

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62097-093-5

Page Count: 208

Publisher: The New Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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