Provocative, especially in this election year, though unlikely to sway doctrinaire members of the reigning party.



A free market, purely capitalist in nature? It doesn’t exist—not in this country, anyway, despite right-wing claims to the contrary.

So argue Hacker and Pierson (co-authors: Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer—and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class, 2010, etc.), political scientists at Yale and Berkeley, respectively. Elaborated at length, their thesis is simple: America’s economy and its economic success owes to its mixed nature, blending private enterprise “in producing and allocating goods and innovating to meet consumer demand” with government investment in infrastructure, education, and other areas. Most advanced economies show a similar mix, with the state ideally ensuring that the “invisible hand” winds up on the right lever. Even Adam Smith, write the authors, recognized that so-called rational actors can act to the detriment of the whole when they pursue their self-interests. Yet the current and dominant political mode, courtesy of such agents as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the brothers Koch, is the demand to remove the government from the mix or, better, to use government as a piggy bank to loot without government being able to influence the direction of the market or curb the self-interests of those rational actors. Hacker and Pierson offer a depressing series of case studies to that end—for instance, food industry efforts to fight the Obama administration’s anti-obesity campaign and the rise of private schools, little better than diploma mills, whose outcomes are worse than those of public counterparts but whose owners still manage to receive ample federal funds. The costs of this private looting to the public are not merely economic; write the authors, “in undermining essential public authority, they threaten effective democratic governance itself.” They suggest reforms to curb the worst effects of the libertarian grab, including “rebuilding government capacity” and remaking Senate filibuster requirements so that the system is more “majoritarian.”

Provocative, especially in this election year, though unlikely to sway doctrinaire members of the reigning party.

Pub Date: March 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4516-6782-0

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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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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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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