An impassioned call for continued efforts for change.



A hard-hitting revisionist history of civil rights activism.

Theoharis (Political Science/Brooklyn Coll.; The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks, 2013, etc.) argues persuasively that the reality of the civil rights movement has become a benign national fable, invoked by public officials and liberals to assert their “enlightened bona fides” and by critics of activist groups such as Black Lives Matter in an effort to silence them. Central to this fable are distorted images of Rosa Parks, depicted as a quiet, meek woman, and Martin Luther King Jr., whose achievements are attributed to his “loving, nonviolent approach.” As activist Julian Bond once put it, “the narrative of the movement has been reduced to ‘Rosa sat down, Martin stood up, then the white folks saw the light and saved the day.’ ” Theoharis strongly believes that turning the civil rights movement into “museum history” promotes the false idea of “an exceptional America moving past its own racism.” She also points out that racism is not limited to the South; she shows how the “polite racism” of the North “framed resistance to desegregation in the language of ‘neighborhood schools,’ ‘taxpayer’s rights,’ and ‘forced busing.’ ” Denying personal animosity toward blacks, Northerners revealed racism in “silence, coded language, and the demonization of dissent.” Theoharis takes the media to task for their coverage of uprisings in Detroit, Los Angeles, and New York; reporters, she writes, failed to investigate the “racial inequities embedded in their city’s schools, policing, or municipal structures” and presented the violence as a stunning surprise rather than the culmination “of a protracted struggle.” Similarly, she criticizes the movie Detroit (2017) for “completely erasing the history of Black life and activism in the city” before the killings depicted. She also criticizes Barack Obama, who as candidate and president warned black men not to use racism as an excuse for personal failure, thereby diverting focus from civil rights organizing to “inward self-help.” Chronicling the efforts of many activists, the author underscores her message that reform requires courage and hard work.

An impassioned call for continued efforts for change.

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8070-7587-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Beacon

Review Posted Online: Oct. 30, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 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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