An astute analysis that illuminates many of today’s critical international issues.

WORLD ORDER

Former Secretary of State Kissinger (On China, 2011, etc.) considers the prospect for order in a world without agreed-upon rules.

At a time when many nations differ on the meanings of democracy, human rights and international law, the 21st-century world is in a state of flux regarding the concepts of power and legitimacy—the foundation of world order. In fact, the world has never achieved world order, writes Kissinger. It came closest four centuries ago when warring European states, under the Peace of Westphalia, recognized state sovereignty and principles of international relations. Those rules and limits diminished greatly after World War II, when the United States dominated the Atlantic Alliance. They never reigned globally in a world of divergent cultures, histories and theories of order. In this erudite view of our disordered world, Kissinger views each region from a historical perspective to reveal the forces behind differing views of world order. In the Arab world, he finds that Islam is “a religion, a multicultural superstate, and a new world order,” where, in the case of Iran, for example, negotiation is seen as part of “an eternal religious struggle.” The “ominous” disintegration of Arab nations into tribal and sectarian units, writes the author, recalls the religious wars in pre-Westphalia Europe. Kissinger traces the rise of America’s idealistic vision of world order—one based on the universality of American principles—and credits the U.S. with many contributions to global order while noting that America “has risked extremes of overextension and disillusioned withdrawal.” The author also discusses the role of science and technology in shaping world affairs, urging that the instant information afforded by the Internet be viewed within the broader context of history. Regions must agree on their own concepts of order before they can relate to one another.

An astute analysis that illuminates many of today’s critical international issues.

Pub Date: Sept. 9, 2014

ISBN: 978-1594206146

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 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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