A well-reported, optimistic portrait of America’s future.



An illuminating trip through “parts of the country generally missed by the media spotlight.”

Between 2013 and 2017, Atlantic national correspondent James Fallows (China Airborne: The Test of China’s Future, 2013, etc.) and his wife, Deborah Fallows (Dreaming in Chinese: Mandarin Lessons in Life, Love, and Language, 2011, etc.), traveled nearly 100,000 miles in their small plane, making two-week stops in 25 cities and shorter visits to another 24. They visited libraries and bars, schools and businesses; talked to politicians, civic leaders, newly arrived refugees, students, social service workers, and others to get a sense of “the backbone and character of the region” and, by extension, of the whole country. Writing with lively curiosity and open minds, the couple have created textured portraits of 29 American cities, from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, to Allentown, Pennsylvania, and Eastport, Maine, to Redlands, California. Central to a city’s or region’s success, they discovered, were “the stories people tell themselves” about their “traits and strengths.” Burlington, Vermont, for example, changed its identity from largely a retirement community to a research and technology center where local companies encourage startups. Although the city struggles with drug culture and “tensions between old-family Vermont residents and new arrivals,” civic engagement, one resident said, “is the absolute heart of what keeps the city palpitating.” Although all but one of the states visited voted for Donald Trump in 2016, the authors found no evidence of “the seething fury described by the media.” Instead, they noted “humming, stylish” downtowns—essential for a city’s success—in places like Columbus, Ohio, and Greenville, South Carolina, each the result of efforts by business, civic, and educational organizations. They found innovative schools, like the Mississippi School for Mathematics and the Arts, a public boarding school in Columbus, Mississippi, where students—some of whom grew up in a shack or trailer—were building robots. The authors assert that distancing themselves from national politics, fostering collaboration between government and businesses, and keeping open to outsiders, including immigrants, all contribute to a city’s vitality.

A well-reported, optimistic portrait of America’s future.

Pub Date: May 8, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-101-87184-3

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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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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