FOR YOUR OWN GOOD

THE ANTI-SMOKING CRUSADE AND THE TYRANNY OF PUBLIC HEALTH

A somewhat predictable libertarian attack on antismoking efforts. Gadflies can perform an important service when public debate is one-sided. In this volume Sullum, a veteran journalist and senior editor of Reason magazine, assumes this mantle and boldly leaps into the ongoing tobacco wars but is only partially successful. On one hand, he presents a thorough overview of the history of tobacco use and efforts to restrict it, is straightforward about the dangers, and makes a serious effort to shift the grounds of debate from public health to political freedom. On the other hand, he’s too willing to focus attention on his opponents rather than on the issue, replicating the ad hominem and straw-man attacks for which he criticizes the antismoking movement. Sullum’s argument is that efforts to eliminate smoking are tyrannical and run roughshod over the traditional distinction between other- and self-regarding actions that classical liberals use to distinguish between behavior that should and should not be subject to public control. This is a legitimate concern that has been shoved aside too easily, and his charge of collectivism should not be dismissed as quaint and archaic. However, after clearing the smoke away from the fundamental issue of political values, he asserts his libertarian position rather than arguing for it. Without recognizing that some individual behavior is appropriately restricted, identifying the criteria that distinguish that behavior, and assessing where smoking falls in relation to those criteria, Sullum is just circling the issue his book needs to address. If, as Sullum sarcastically concludes, “freedom is the most pernicious” risk factor for disease and injury in the eyes of antismokers, a more disciplined analysis of smoking in relation to freedom is badly needed. (8 pages b&w photos) (Radio satellite tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-684-82736-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1998

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However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS

Maya Angelou is a natural writer with an inordinate sense of life and she has written an exceptional autobiographical narrative which retrieves her first sixteen years from "the general darkness just beyond the great blinkers of childhood."

Her story is told in scenes, ineluctably moving scenes, from the time when she and her brother were sent by her fancy living parents to Stamps, Arkansas, and a grandmother who had the local Store. Displaced they were and "If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat." But alternating with all the pain and terror (her rape at the age of eight when in St. Louis With her mother) and humiliation (a brief spell in the kitchen of a white woman who refused to remember her name) and fear (of a lynching—and the time they buried afflicted Uncle Willie under a blanket of vegetables) as well as all the unanswered and unanswerable questions, there are affirmative memories and moments: her charming brother Bailey; her own "unshakable God"; a revival meeting in a tent; her 8th grade graduation; and at the end, when she's sixteen, the birth of a baby. Times When as she says "It seemed that the peace of a day's ending was an assurance that the covenant God made with children, Negroes and the crippled was still in effect."

However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1969

ISBN: 0375507892

Page Count: 235

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1969

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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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