This impressively cogent work about mass incarceration provides concrete actions to curb the excesses of a government...

Justice Restored

10 STEPS TO END MASS INCARCERATION IN AMERICA

A book delivers a scathing indictment of the American criminal justice system.

It’s clear that a social issue has reached critical mass when folks all across the political spectrum publicly recognize it as a fundamental problem. Such is the case with mass incarceration in the United States. As Woltz (The Path, 2014, etc.) points out in this ambitious work, the Department of Justice estimated in 2010 that 25 percent of American adults carry the burden of a criminal record. The author presents similarly alarming statistics throughout the text, but he also explains how things got to this point by means of concise historical analysis. Topics range from parole and plea bargains to jury rights and conspiracy statutes. In each chapter, Woltz examines the issue at hand, offers “action items,” and presents a case (often maddening and Kafkaesque in nature) to exemplify his argument. (On several occasions, he mentions his own bizarre encounters with the criminal justice system, but he recounts them in depth elsewhere.) Even the most politically astute readers may be surprised to learn that the much-criticized Citizens United Supreme Court decision “is actually the culmination of 130 years of misinterpretation by that same Court, ostensibly beginning with an offhand comment that was made by a Supreme Court justice in 1886 before the case [Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Company] was even heard, but was left on the record.” Woltz paints such a bleak picture that some may wonder if the situation is essentially intractable due to the deep-seated financial and political interests at play. Others may question the viability of his recommendations, such as the abolishment of the FBI and the Department of Justice. Woltz seems aware of this potential hesitation, as he writes: “However, the nation has become so accustomed to these organizations being in power that it sounds foreign—almost insane—to talk about putting them back in the unconstitutional hole from which they sprang.” Thus, he concludes the book with what is perhaps a more achievable goal: “limit any donation to any politician to those living, breathing human beings who reside in their district of election.” This seemingly simple act, which would necessarily entail the overturning of Citizens United, would have far-reaching implications throughout the entire political landscape.

This impressively cogent work about mass incarceration provides concrete actions to curb the excesses of a government apparatus spinning out of control.

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-938015-47-2

Page Count: 141

Publisher: Hybrid Global Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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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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