Students of geopolitics and current affairs would do well to spend time with this book, which, though deceptively slender,...




A journey across the ideological and literal battlegrounds of the Old World, featuring reports full of dire portent.

A specter is haunting Europe: anti-Semitism, nationalism, and all the other tired, old -isms that threaten to crush the ideals of the Enlightenment. In France, a rising right wing threatens to undo continental unity; in Greece, a rising left wing threatens to do the same, adding Grexit and perhaps Frexit to Brexit. Then there are the former Soviet satellites of the East, beset by internal problems and now menaced by a revanchist Russia, acting out with special vehemence in Ukraine. On that note, Foreign Policy Initiative fellow Kirchick observes that during the recent presidential election, there was “an overlap in the aggressive, lewd, trollish Twitter accounts supporting Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and those pushing a pro-Kremlin message.” Then there is Hungary, whose rightist government seemingly wishes to recapitulate the glory days of Miklós Horthy; while the neo-Nazi fringe captures the most attention, “the more insidious menace comes from those wearing a cloak of respectability and who actually hold power.” So it ever was, and so Kirchick, traveling from one hot spot to the next, returns to an overarching and ancient threat. “The sad fact is that, in Europe today, there’s only one group of people who are regularly killed on the basis of their identity,” he writes, adding that when Muslim militants strike there are immediately calls from “right-thinking Europeans” to shun Islamophobia, while there are seldom calls of unity with Europe’s Jews when they are the victims—as they disproportionally are. There is little to cheer in the book, for the author writes that a refragmented Europe, diminished on the world stage if not outright collapsed, “means a more dangerous international state of affairs,” where the tiniest spark could lead to conflagration.

Students of geopolitics and current affairs would do well to spend time with this book, which, though deceptively slender, contains multitudes.

Pub Date: March 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-300-21831-2

Page Count: 280

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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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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