From a Washington insider, a scrambled but edifying examination of the last four years of the Senate’s “era of greatness”—1977 to 1980.

The class of ’62 (a Democratic majority) presided over the Senate during the two ensuing decades that wrought the great civil-rights legislation, cut off funding for the Vietnam War, propounded environmental-protection laws and oversaw the Watergate hearings, among other epic national battles. Shapiro, now an international trade law lawyer in Washington, concentrates on the tail end of that brave, progressive and fluidly bipartisan run, when Robert Byrd of West Virginia (known as “the grind,” having grown out of his bigoted early conservatism) acceded as majority leader, inheriting the inspired leadership mantle of LBJ and Mike Mansfield before him. By 1977, with the election of Jimmy Carter, the Senate had regained its democratic footing since being unsettled by the “imperial presidency” of Richard Nixon, and was receptive to Carter’s urging for strengthening ethics in government. Despite Carter’s tendency to circumvent legislators’ input altogether, Byrd’s diverse, youngish, dynamic Senate passed the ethics code, met the energy crisis, deregulated airlines, raised the minimum wage, passed the Panama Canal treaties, took on labor law reform, saved New York City and Chrysler from financial collapse, protected Alaska wilderness land and agreed to the peace proposal between the rancorous parties in the Middle East. All of these Herculean efforts required the experience and cajoling of now-legendary senators like Moynihan, Javitz, Kennedy, Ribicoff, Muskie, Church and Mondale. The progressive run would come to a screeching halt with the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 and the decisive turn of the Senate, and populace, to the right. A work of broad, archival and anecdotal research by a writer with a good grasp of the messy era and times.  


Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-58648-936-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2011

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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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...


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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