A sizzling indictment of Uganda’s current strongman and of the American policy in Africa that supports his corrupt regime...

ANOTHER FINE MESS

AMERICA, UGANDA AND THE WAR ON TERROR

A valiant attempt to disentangle the many threads snarled in the continuing African tragedy.

Epstein (The Invisible Cure: Why We Are Losing the Fight Against AIDS in Africa, 2007) has reported extensively on Africa for the New York Times and the New York Review of Books, among other publications. Here, the author recalls an African myth in which a wily hare outwits powerful but dimwitted enemies and then likens Ugandan dictator Yoweri Museveni to the clever hare manipulating bumbling Americans. She charges that the United States, while purporting to support the growth of democracies, has ignored his corruption and human rights violations as long as he has convincingly claimed that Uganda is a democracy and has appeared to be a bulwark against advancing Islamic terrorism. She reports that Museveni’s American-trained army “has been highly effective in crushing nascent democracy movements in Uganda and in other countries,” and she grimly details the dictator’s outsized ambitions and atrocities against innocent people. The numerous unfamiliar African names and a plethora of abbreviations for various military forces—e.g., NRA, LRA, RPF, AFDL, SPLA—will challenge readers who do not pay close attention to the text. Fortunately, Epstein prefaces her work with a concise timeline of events in Uganda, Rwanda, Sudan, Zaire/Congo, and Somalia that can be consulted by readers struggling to understand her dense account of the violence and corruption that have beleaguered that part of the world. So what should the U.S. do to change the situation? According to the author, it’s crucial that we renew the pledge to support the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but a specific plan of action is not included.

A sizzling indictment of Uganda’s current strongman and of the American policy in Africa that supports his corrupt regime with generous foreign aid.

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9977229-2-5

Page Count: 264

Publisher: Columbia Global Reports

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

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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