A thoughtful historical study of the entrenched symbolism of a dreaded bridge in Mississippi, a landmark that “fixed...

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HANGING BRIDGE

RACIAL VIOLENCE AND AMERICA'S CIVIL RIGHTS CENTURY

History of the most notorious sites in Mississippi for white-on-black violence, from 1918 to 1966.

A place of enormous symbolic power, the Shubuta bridge over the Chickasawhay River, in Clarke County, Mississippi, became the most heinous “monument to Jim Crow,” the site of numerous lynchings of African-Americans by white mobs. In this painstaking study spanning decades, Ward (History/Mississippi State Univ., Defending White Democracy: The Making of a Segregationist Movement and the Remaking of Racial Politics, 1936-1965, 2011, etc.) delves into the specifics of the gruesome crimes and the crusading work by journalists and NAACP activists like Walter F. White to expose the lynchings in the South. Waves of violence between the white supremacists and the black Mississippians who had seen their promise of freedom betrayed after Reconstruction broke out during moments of crisis, as Ward notes, especially following three eras of global war. The first, in 1918, a quadruple hanging of two brothers and two sisters (both pregnant) from the bridge, followed the murder of the young women’s boss as an attempt at protecting their honor. White, a black man who could pass for white, went undercover in Shubuta to expose the lynchings, but he was unable to publish the terrible details in mainstream magazines. In October 1942, the bridge was again the site of a lynching, this time of two teenage boys. Ward sees the violence as a reflection of white wartime anxiety over the fear of losing control of black workers, who were fleeing to the North. The Mississippi violence prompted renewed attempts at anti-lynching legislation in Congress. Finally, in 1966, after successive civil rights bills, the small but growing presence of the NAACP in Clarke County helped crack the widespread fear of registering to vote “or joining up with anything smacking of civil rights.”

A thoughtful historical study of the entrenched symbolism of a dreaded bridge in Mississippi, a landmark that “fixed attention on Jim Crow’s brutal excesses and unresolved legacies.”

Pub Date: May 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-19-937656-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2016

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A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.

ECONOMIC DIGNITY

Noted number cruncher Sperling delivers an economist’s rejoinder to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Former director of the National Economic Council in the administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, the author has long taken a view of the dismal science that takes economic justice fully into account. Alongside all the metrics and estimates and reckonings of GDP, inflation, and the supply curve, he holds the great goal of economic policy to be the advancement of human dignity, a concept intangible enough to chase the econometricians away. Growth, the sacred mantra of most economic policy, “should never be considered an appropriate ultimate end goal” for it, he counsels. Though 4% is the magic number for annual growth to be considered healthy, it is healthy only if everyone is getting the benefits and not just the ultrawealthy who are making away with the spoils today. Defining dignity, admits Sperling, can be a kind of “I know it when I see it” problem, but it does not exist where people are a paycheck away from homelessness; the fact, however, that people widely share a view of indignity suggests the “intuitive universality” of its opposite. That said, the author identifies three qualifications, one of them the “ability to meaningfully participate in the economy with respect, not domination and humiliation.” Though these latter terms are also essentially unquantifiable, Sperling holds that this respect—lack of abuse, in another phrasing—can be obtained through a tight labor market and monetary and fiscal policy that pushes for full employment. In other words, where management needs to come looking for workers, workers are likely to be better treated than when the opposite holds. In still other words, writes the author, dignity is in part a function of “ ‘take this job and shove it’ power,” which is a power worth fighting for.

A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7987-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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No one’s mind will be changed by Karl’s book, but it’s a valuable report from the scene of an ongoing train wreck.

FRONT ROW AT THE TRUMP SHOW

The chief White House and Washington correspondent for ABC provides a ringside seat to a disaster-ridden Oval Office.

It is Karl to whom we owe the current popularity of a learned Latin term. Questioning chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, he followed up a perhaps inadvertently honest response on the matter of Ukrainian intervention in the electoral campaign by saying, “What you just described is a quid pro quo.” Mulvaney’s reply: “Get over it.” Karl, who has been covering Trump for decades and knows which buttons to push and which to avoid, is not inclined to get over it: He rightly points out that a reporter today “faces a president who seems to have no appreciation or understanding of the First Amendment and the role of a free press in American democracy.” Yet even against a bellicose, untruthful leader, he adds, the press “is not the opposition party.” The author, who keeps his eye on the subject and not in the mirror, writes of Trump’s ability to stage situations, as when he once called Trump out, at an event, for misrepresenting poll results and Trump waited until the camera was off before exploding, “Fucking nasty guy!”—then finished up the interview as if nothing had happened. Trump and his inner circle are also, by Karl’s account, masters of timing, matching negative news such as the revelation that Russia had interfered in the 2016 election with distractions away from Trump—in this case, by pushing hard on the WikiLeaks emails from the Democratic campaign, news of which arrived at the same time. That isn’t to say that they manage people or the nation well; one of the more damning stories in a book full of them concerns former Homeland Security head Kirstjen Nielsen, cut off at the knees even while trying to do Trump’s bidding.

No one’s mind will be changed by Karl’s book, but it’s a valuable report from the scene of an ongoing train wreck.

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-4562-2

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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