A valuable contribution to the study of modern electoral politics in an age that Theodore White, and perhaps even Hunter S....

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DARK MONEY

THE HIDDEN HISTORY OF THE BILLIONAIRES BEHIND THE RISE OF THE RADICAL RIGHT

A careful exposé of the libertarian agenda, spearheaded by the Koch brothers, to “impose their minority views on the majority by other means.”

Those other means, writes New Yorker staff writer Mayer (The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How The War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals, 2008, etc.), are accomplished by a flood of money—$760 million in the last five years alone—pumped into the political system to two immediate ends: to “cripple a twice-elected Democratic president” and “supplant the Republican Party.” It took decades for those floodwaters to rise, during which time, Mayer suggests, Charles and David Koch had come to realize that their unfettered free-market agenda was unpalatable to most Americans. (Refreshingly, on that note, the author affirms that those Americans value fairness.) The brothers, scions of an activist so doctrinaire that he worried the John Birch Society was soft on communism, banded with the likes of Richard Mellon Scaife, “an heir to the Mellon banking and Gulf Oil fortunes,” the Coors family of Colorado, the founders of Amway, and others opposed to any governmental effort to regulate their enterprises, from monitoring pollution to investigating financial practices. The result: that flood of “dark” money, bought-and-paid-for candidates (Mayer names Ted Cruz high among them), and the co-optation of the Republican Party in order to promote the interests of the decidedly 1 percent stratum, which in the meantime still struggled to rebrand itself “as champions of the other ‘99 percent.’ ” Mayer closely documents her charges—about 10 percent of the book is notes—while delivering a swiftly flowing narrative. None of it should surprise anyone who follows the political press, and some of the author’s thunder has been blunted, if not stolen, by Daniel Schulman’s Sons of Wichita (2014). Still, Mayer provides plenty of ammunition for those convinced that the U.S. is no longer a representative democracy but instead an oligarchy.

A valuable contribution to the study of modern electoral politics in an age that Theodore White, and perhaps even Hunter S. Thompson, would not recognize.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-385-53559-5

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2016

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

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...

NIGHT

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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