A thorough and concise look into the technologically saturated future.

THE GREAT CONNECTING

THE EMERGENCE OF GLOBAL BROADBAND AND HOW THAT CHANGES EVERYTHING

A researcher assesses both the challenges and the potentially transformative power of global internet access.

As ubiquitous as the internet may seem, debut author Cashel observes, a considerable swath of the world—its poorest parts—remains without access to it, “locked out” of one of the most significant technological inventions of this era. But there are good reasons to believe that will change soon, in particular the plummeting costs associated with satellite technology, which effectively delivers faster and higher quality broadband service. In addition, major companies like Google and Facebook, with commercial interests in reaching more customers, are experimenting with new ways to supply the developing world with internet access. Facebook has been using drones as instruments of delivery, and Google has been harnessing balloons. Moreover, governmental institutions are making a contribution as well; in 2010, the United Nations established the Broadband Commission for Digital Development and considers the general adoption of broadband access central to the achievement of its other developmental goals for poorer nations. The author astutely raises an important question: How will the widespread promulgation of broadband—what Cashel calls the “Great Connecting”—affect otherwise disadvantaged populations? He provides a searching discussion of the many ways—financial, medical, political, and communicative, just to name a few—in which broadband will positively alter the socio-economic landscapes of the beneficiaries. In addition, the author assesses the challenges, particularly the use of the internet as a tool of extremist hate and political oppression. Finally, he presents a series of thoughtful solutions to these impediments and a kind of road map for governments and investors alike to accelerate the process and clear inevitable hurdles. Cashel is a researcher and visiting fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and so it is unsurprising his study is impressively exacting. At the same time, it’s an exceedingly practical work and draws heavily not only on theory and data, but also on the author’s travels to the developing world. Unfortunately, his optimism can be excessive; for example, especially after the last year of revelations about Facebook’s business, it is remarkable he can write: “The good news is that Facebook does have in its mission statement—and undoubtedly in its corporate DNA—the idea of making the world a better place.” Still, this remains an incisive tour of a complex set of issues. 

A thorough and concise look into the technologically saturated future. 

Pub Date: June 11, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63576-645-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Radius Book Group

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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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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