LIVE BY THE SWORD

THE SECRET WAR AGAINST CASTRO AND THE DEATH OF JFK

Probably the last book on the Kennedy assassination you will need to read. Veteran investigative reporter Russo has reported for both ABC and PBS documentaries on the subject. Here he begins with an autobiographical introduction to convince readers he is not a conspiracy theory nut. His description of the twists and turns in his beliefs about the Kennedy assassination suggest an open-mindedness that is reason to take this author seriously, as well as a serious obsession with the subject matter. Russo argues that the critical question is not who killed Kennedy but why, an inquiry that takes us far beyond Oswald as a lone gunman. In a nutshell, the Bay of Pigs disaster left the Kennedy brothers committed to removing Castro, even to the extent of endorsing bizarre James Bond’style assassination schemes. Bobby was personally involved in this “Cuba Project,” an effort pursued through a Cuban-American community so porous that all such activities were known by Castro in advance, and none of them was even close to successful. Oswald was also familiar with these efforts through his contact with the Cuban community, and he acted because he believed Kennedy was out to kill his hero, Castro. Whether Oswald had support from the Cubans remains a mystery, but for Russo the bottom line is that “JFK’s actions towards Castro were so outlandish, in fact, that had it not been Oswald, someone else was bound to take a shot at him.” The coverup that followed was not due to governmental complicity in the assassination, but was rather to protect Kennedy’s reputation. “For three decades, Kennedy loyalists would fight tooth and nail to perpetuate the ‘lone nut’ hypothesis and to keep the lid on the Kennedys’ attempts to murder Fidel Castro.” Russo’s extremely detailed account reveals much more that was going on, but the story in the end is that the Kennedy brothers were inexperienced and incautious, and they paid the price for a reckless foreign policy. Gripping and convincing. (50 b&w photos, not seen) ($75,000 ad/promo; first printing of 100,000; author tour; TV satellite tour)

Pub Date: Nov. 22, 1998

ISBN: 1-890862-01-0

Page Count: 640

Publisher: Bancroft Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1998

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

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

NIGHT

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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