A readable and nondogmatic book that will appeal to young people especially as a way to rethink conventional history.

TRUTH HAS A POWER OF ITS OWN

CONVERSATIONS ABOUT A PEOPLE’S HISTORY

A transcription of a long 2007 conversation between Zinn (1922-2010) and then–PBS NewsHour national correspondent Suarez (Latino Americans: The 500-Year Legacy That Shaped a Nation, 2013, etc.), now co-host of World Affairs.

Their conversation is free-wheeling and illuminating, though readers of Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States (1980) will be familiar with his overriding emphasis on what has not been taught in U.S. history textbooks—namely, the ethnic cleansing of Native Americans and the undercurrents of class conflict between the haves and have-nots. This work is divided into three parts that correspond roughly with the American timeline: “Change the Story,” or the gritty, shameful history of the country’s founding by genocide, slavery, and an ingrained class struggle that Zinn claims was “the backdrop to the framing of the Constitution in 1787”; “They Rebelled,” chronicling the movements of popular dissent and protest that arose especially in the 19th century (e.g., the Lowell Mill strikes, the abolition movement, and agrarian radicalism); and “They Began to Organize,” which follows movements that grew in response to inequities, such as the Bonus March of veterans; the grassroots farmers movement; the civil rights, women’s, and Indian movements; and the struggles of the LGBTQ community. Zinn is keen to underscore the asymmetry of power and economics and how the poor and powerless often turn against each other rather than their oppressors. He is constantly turning a subject over to look at it a different way, such as the causes of war and “the job of selling the war to the American people.” Throughout, Suarez proves to be a capable interviewer, asking solid, specific questions and demonstrating his handle of the many subjects discussed.

A readable and nondogmatic book that will appeal to young people especially as a way to rethink conventional history.

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-62097-517-6

Page Count: 256

Publisher: The New Press

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 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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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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