A hard-hitting study that will surely resonate with ongoing attempts to regenerate the GOP.

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TO MAKE MEN FREE

A HISTORY OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY

A new history of the Republican Party as a relentless pull by big-business interests has cast it farther and farther from its noble founding principles.

How did the party of Abraham Lincoln—dedicated to checking the spread of Southern “Slave Power” in the West and to expanding the vision of freedom and opportunity among the larger pool of poor and newly emancipated—become the party of the rich and entitled? Richardson (History/Boston Coll.; Wounded Knee: Party Politics and the Road to an American Massacre, 2010, etc.) makes a bold, pertinent argument that the Republican Party has always been beset by contradictions within its core as a result of the founding tension between the belief in equality of opportunity and the protection of property. She focuses on three presidents who have been true to the original Republican cause—Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower—and three periods following progressive legislation eras that saw a reactionary swerve back to pro-business policies and a resulting economic crash: 1893, 1929 and 2008. The party emerged in reaction to the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, threatening to spread slave power into what Northerners hoped would be a West open to “poor but hardworking, ambitious young men.” Harkening back to Thomas Jefferson and the Declaration of Independence, the Republican Party embraced “the first principles of republican government” and broke with “schemes of aristocracy,” namely the concentration of wealth among the upper few. Lincoln’s assassination, followed by Andrew Johnson’s undercutting of Reconstruction, saw the beginning of the reactionary turn back to obstructionism and narrow business interests. Richardson systematically delineates how the “trickle down” economic approach never worked, yet was continually pushed by rogue elements of the party.

A hard-hitting study that will surely resonate with ongoing attempts to regenerate the GOP.

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 2014

ISBN: 978-0465024315

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Basic

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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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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