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

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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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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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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