A cogent analysis of the concurrent Trump/Brexit phenomena and a dire warning about what lies ahead.

US VS. THEM

THE FAILURE OF GLOBALISM

An examination of the coming worldwide explosion of populism.

“Even as [globalism] makes the world better, it breeds economic and cultural insecurity, and when people act out of fear, bad things happen,” writes Bremmer (Superpower: Three Choices for America's Role in the World, 2015, etc.), president of Eurasia Group, a political risk consulting firm. Already, popular discontent with ruling elites has fostered the protectionism of Donald Trump and Britain’s decision to leave the European Union. Unfortunately, writes the author, that is just the beginning. In this lucid, provocative book, he argues that the battle between us and them (globalization’s “winners and losers”), driven by “fears of diluted identity” and “economic anxieties,” is set to grow in intensity, especially in the developing world, which often lacks sturdy institutions and social safety nets. Anxiety dictates that “the borders are open, and the foreigners are coming. They will steal your job. They will cost you your pension and your health care by bankrupting your system. They will pollute your traditional culture.” To protect themselves, angry citizens turn to politicians who build barriers (physical walls, tariffs, etc.) to stem the loss of jobs and seeming onslaught of strangers, criminals, and terrorists. The book’s most revealing chapter analyzes political trends in the dozen largest developing countries. With more than half of the world’s people (and an even higher percentage of its youth), they will determine the future of the global economy. All face increasing popular frustration: growing inequality in Egypt, corruption and economic decline in Russia, religious tensions in India, water and electricity shortages in Venezuela, and the urban–rural wealth divide in China. The needs of these and other countries—Indonesia, Turkey, Brazil, Mexico, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, and South Africa—will further widen the gap between winners and losers, ultimately forcing a moment of global “reckoning.” Bremmer urges a rewriting of social contracts to help people thrive in dangerous times.

A cogent analysis of the concurrent Trump/Brexit phenomena and a dire warning about what lies ahead.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-53318-4

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Portfolio

Review Posted Online: April 24, 2018

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A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 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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