An overly detailed and dated account of the ups and downs of an Illinois political campaign, possibly of interest to black...

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BEHIND THE SMILE

A STORY OF CAROL MOSELEY BRAUN'S HISTORIC SENATE CAMPAIGN

A close-up look at the senatorial campaign of a trailblazing black female politician.

Morris (Brian Piccolo: A Short Season, 1971), the first woman to win the Ring Lardner Award for sports journalism, followed the 1992 campaign of Braun, the first black woman to become a U.S. senator. The author introduces the theme of sexual harassment with a look back at Braun’s angry comments on a PBS show about the hearings that preceded the confirmation of Clarence Thomas as a Supreme Court justice. When Braun announced her candidacy, Morris, impressed, asked to follow her campaign and document it for a book. Braun agreed, and Morris kept a journal of the experience. This book is based on her journal, quotes from her interviews with the campaign staff, long statements by Braun, letters, newspaper articles, and even gossip columns from Chicago newspapers. Morris describes Braun’s campaign manager, Kgosie Matthews, to whom she could not get close, as “meticulously mannered and erudite—or rude and contemptuous.” It soon became apparent that he was not just Braun’s campaign manager, but also her lover. When staff members charged him with sexual harassment, Braun chose to reject them in order to protect the man she trusted and saw as her protector. Though she was enraged by Braun’s self-destructive behavior, Morris continued to see her as a phenomenal person with great courage and potential, and she continued to work on this book. When Braun made it clear she did not want it published, Morris concurred, not wanting to damage Braun’s career. Her decision to go public at this late date is unclear, but perhaps it is clarified by her describing this as “a cautionary tale that screams ‘hazard’ where passion and politics intersect.”

An overly detailed and dated account of the ups and downs of an Illinois political campaign, possibly of interest to black female Chicagoans, political groupies of any ilk, or feminist book clubs.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-57284-176-5

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Agate Midway

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2015

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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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