CRISES OF THE REPUBLIC

LYING IN POLITICS; CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE; ON VIOLENCE; THOUGHTS ON POLITICS AND REVOLUTION

First published as a separate book in 1969, "On Violence" has become influential with its emphasis on the inverse relation between power and violence. "Lying in Politics," a discussion of the Pentagon Papers, is the most noteworthy among the other essays here (which first appeared in periodicals like the New York Review of Books). Professor Arendt underlines the fact that the Vietnam policy makers had remarkably accurate intelligence reports at their disposal and made remarkably consistent disuse of them; she concludes that "defactualization" could be sustained only because no real goals were sought beyond an "image" of power. This notion that the warmakers' purposes were "almost exclusively psychological" is presented with profuse quotations from Richard Barnet's contribution to Washington Plans An Aggressive War (1971). The anti-war sentiments Arendt expresses here are perfectly compatible with her essential conservatism; indeed, her logic could lead one to insist that policy makers be supremely victory-minded and next time pick a target of greater material importance. She argues that the Pentagon Papers' evidence denies not only a "quagmire" view of Vietnam policies but also says accusations of "imperialism" are now refuted, since they were indifferent to all tangible gains. In "Civil Disobedience" the polemic is more muted: Arendt elaborates the notion that civil disobedients are not merely a cluster of conscience-stricken individuals but "a voluntary association," or an "organized minority" — i.e., a single-issue protest group with constitutional legitimacy. Her treatment of the subject is superior to most. The "Politics and Revolution" interview, dated mid-1970, denies that the student movement is frustrated, advises it not to "destroy the universities," perceptively comments on capitalist "primitive accumulation," and discusses socialism as if it were equivalent to the Eastern bloc regimes. With her air of authority and European worldly wisdom, Arendt often gets away with saws and sophistries; but politically-minded readers will relish the chance to tangle with her intelligence.

Pub Date: May 10, 1972

ISBN: 0156232006

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1972

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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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