NECESSITY FOR CHOICE

PROSPECTS OF AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY

Henry Kissinger is Associate Professor of Government at Harvard and Executive Director of the Harvard International Seminar. He was also, during 1956-57, director of the Special Studies Project for the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. And he is the author of Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy. This formidable and serious book, addressed only to the politically knowledgeable, is an attempt to define the major issues of foreign policy that will confront America in the sixties. He deals with the overwhelmingly difficult problems of arms control, the possibility of the reunification of Germany, NATO, the conduct of diplomacy, the concept of limited warfare and the emergence of new nations. It would be impossible to describe here all the ramifications of Professor Kissinger's thinking on these complex issues for he by no means believes that simple virtue and persistence will eventually lead to easy solutions nor does he believe that policy-making can be approached from an attitude of abstraction. He does insist, however, that we have come to the end of the policies and of the men who dominated the post-war period and that the past 15 years can be characterized as a decline for the West. Broadly the direction of the discussion can be indicated: he does not think that the answer to our political problems can be found in reducing our defenses; the problem of NATO cannot be resolved on a national basis; a reunified, neutralized Germany is a feasible proposal; it's impossible to rely on personalities at the Summit; and schemes for arms control should not be considered substitutes for dealing with the political causes of the Cold War. After dealing with these specific policy dilemmas the author then discusses the process of political evolution — in the Soviet Union and the newly emerging nations. And he concludes with an examination of the roles of the policymaker and the intellectual in a bureaucratic system. Unquestionably the book is an important one but it is probably not for general readership.

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 1960

ISBN: 0313243751

Page Count: 370

Publisher: Harper

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1960

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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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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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