An excellent revisiting of a prescient report.



An astute, timely study of Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s important 1965 jeremiad.

Written when Moynihan was serving as assistant secretary of labor in Lyndon Johnson’s administration, The Negro Family: The Case for National Action decried the ills that beset black urban America, including the legacy of slavery, discrimination, cycle of poverty, unemployment, out-of-wedlock children and absent fathers. At the time, Johnson was riding high on his Great Society agenda, touting the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and galvanizing the country in the War on Poverty. Although Johnson incorporated many of Moynihan’s ideas into an important speech at Howard University’s commencement on June 4, the eruption of violence in the Watts ghetto and widespread criticism of Moynihan’s outspoken report soon eclipsed its prophetic message that a “unity of purpose” in federal programs was needed to arrest the crumbling structure of the black family, which would only “feed on itself” in the future. The report aroused the ire of critics and militant civil-rights leaders, who accused Moynihan of victimizing blacks and advocating preferential treatment—a “conversational Gulag.” As a result, for years he was relegated to the status of neo-conservative. Bancroft Prize–winning historian Patterson (Restless Giant: The United States from Watergate to Bush vs. Gore, 2005, etc.) traces Moynihan’s career through successive administrations, from Nixon to Clinton, and his tireless work for welfare reform. “The moment lost” to address the dysfunctional black family was only regained with the publication of William Julius Wilson’s The Truly Disadvantaged (1987) and other books. The final chapter, “From Cosby to Obama,” addresses current troubling trends and public-policy strategies that work.

An excellent revisiting of a prescient report.

Pub Date: May 4, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-465-01357-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Basic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2010

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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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Bernstein and Woodward, the two Washington Post journalists who broke the Big Story, tell how they did it by old fashioned seat-of-the-pants reporting — in other words, lots of intuition and a thick stack of phone numbers. They've saved a few scoops for the occasion, the biggest being the name of their early inside source, the "sacrificial lamb" H**h Sl**n. But Washingtonians who talked will be most surprised by the admission that their rumored contacts in the FBI and elsewhere never existed; many who were telephoned for "confirmation" were revealing more than they realized. The real drama, and there's plenty of it, lies in the private-eye tactics employed by Bernstein and Woodward (they refer to themselves in the third person, strictly on a last name basis). The centerpiece of their own covert operation was an unnamed high government source they call Deep Throat, with whom Woodward arranged secret meetings by positioning the potted palm on his balcony and through codes scribbled in his morning newspaper. Woodward's wee hours meetings with Deep Throat in an underground parking garage are sheer cinema: we can just see Robert Redford (it has to be Robert Redford) watching warily for muggers and stubbing out endless cigarettes while Deep Throat spills the inside dope about the plumbers. Then too, they amass enough seamy detail to fascinate even the most avid Watergate wallower — what a drunken and abusive Mitchell threatened to do to Post publisher Katherine Graham's tit, and more on the Segretti connection — including the activities of a USC campus political group known as the Ratfuckers whose former members served as a recruiting pool for the Nixon White House. As the scandal goes public and out of their hands Bernstein and Woodward seem as stunned as the rest of us at where their search for the "head ratfucker" has led. You have to agree with what their City Editor Barry Sussman realized way back in the beginning — "We've never had a story like this. Just never."

Pub Date: June 18, 1974

ISBN: 0671894412

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974

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