A fine lesson in civics and political journalism and must reading for anyone contemplating working in electoral politics.

THE FIRSTS

THE INSIDE STORY OF THE WOMEN RESHAPING CONGRESS

The 2018 electoral cycle was a good one for women—well, at least some women, as New York Times reporter Steinhauer shows.

In the wake of the “blue wave” anti-Trump backlash of 2018, the largest number of women ever elected to Congress took the oath of office. Some of them have since become household names—e.g., Rashida Tlaib, a daughter of Palestinian immigrants who set off shock waves when she pledged about Trump that she was going to “impeach the motherfucker,” forcing an issue that the Democratic leadership had been trying to keep under wraps. The class of 2018 found 106 women in the House and 25 in the Senate, and of the 35 newcomers that year, all but one was a Democrat. As for the Republican women, Steinhauer writes, “their numbers in the House fell from twenty-three to thirteen, the biggest percentage drop ever and the lowest number overall in a generation.” There are numerous reasons for that fall, she ventures, including both revulsion among women for the sitting president and the lack of an effort among Republicans to recruit women to their cause. Instead, the Capitol now includes women such as Kyrsten Sinema, who immediately tested the Senate’s dress code by wearing a sleeveless outfit instead of the usual business suit. That example seems trivial compared to the weightier intentions of the incoming class, who, by Steinhauer’s reckoning, were fueled by Trump to run for Congress just as other Americans rushed to enlist in the service following 9/11, “as part of a larger national emergency response.” The analogy won’t please the likes of Joni Ernst and Martha McSally, but the larger point is that women hitherto excluded from the system—Arab Americans from Michigan, Native Americans from Kansas and New Mexico, African Americans and Latinas and members of other underserved populations—are now actively involved and pressing for accelerated reforms, to say nothing of the chance to influence the entrenched leadership.

A fine lesson in civics and political journalism and must reading for anyone contemplating working in electoral politics.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-61620-999-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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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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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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