A pragmatic view of systemic social change.

THE SOCIALIST AWAKENING

WHAT'S DIFFERENT NOW ABOUT THE LEFT

A self-described "longtime leftist" sees new interest in post-Marxist, post–Cold War socialism.

Completing the trilogy he began with The Populist Explosion and The Nationalist Revival, journalist and political analyst Judis offers a cogent, incisive examination of growing interest in socialist ideals in the U.S., U.K., and Europe. “The failure of market capitalism,” he writes, “has been heightened by the threat posed by the novel coronavirus. All the weaknesses of the previous era—from the over-reliance on global supply chains to underfunded social services; from tax avoidance by the wealthy and large corporations to the immiseration of what are known as ‘essential workers’—have been laid bare.” The recession of 2008, worries over climate change, and Donald Trump’s presidency have all fueled anti-capitalist sentiments, causing membership in the Democratic Socialists of America to grow, especially among younger people. “In 2013,” writes the author, “the average age of a DSA member was sixty-eight.” By 2017, it was 33. New socialists, Judis asserts, “place a high importance on the ideals of justice as integral to socialism.” The author chronicles the evolution of socialism in the U.S., beginning with Eugene V. Debs and culminating in Bernie Sanders, who calls himself a “Swedish-style socialist,” and Elizabeth Warren, whose platform incorporated many socialist ideals. In the U.K., socialism has been embraced since 1918 by the Labour Party, although it’s recently been undermined by the candidacy of Jeremy Corbyn. New leadership, Judis points out, is essential to instituting needed reforms, including partial public takeover of the health care industry, transportation, and energy production and use; public financing of elections; a guaranteed annual income; and massive investment in public welfare. Contrary to assumptions by some on the left, nationalism is integral to socialism: Any socialist or economically progressive appeal, Judis warns, depends on a “clearly defined” citizenry, “their common commitment to the nation assumed.”

A pragmatic view of systemic social change.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73442-070-8

Page Count: 140

Publisher: Columbia Global Reports

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.

HAPPY-GO-LUCKY

Sedaris remains stubbornly irreverent even in the face of pandemic lockdowns and social upheaval.

In his previous collection of original essays, Calypso (2018), the author was unusually downbeat, fixated on aging and the deaths of his mother and sister. There’s bad news in this book, too—most notably, the death of his problematic and seemingly indestructible father at 96—but Sedaris generally carries himself more lightly. On a trip to a gun range, he’s puzzled by boxer shorts with a holster feature, which he wishes were called “gunderpants.” He plays along with nursing-home staffers who, hearing a funnyman named David is on the premises, think he’s Dave Chappelle. He’s bemused by his sister Amy’s landing a new apartment to escape her territorial pet rabbit. On tour, he collects sheaves of off-color jokes and tales of sexual self-gratification gone wrong. His relationship with his partner, Hugh, remains contentious, but it’s mellowing. (“After thirty years, sleeping is the new having sex.”) Even more serious stuff rolls off him. Of Covid-19, he writes that “more than eight hundred thousand people have died to date, and I didn’t get to choose a one of them.” The author’s support of Black Lives Matter is tempered by his interest in the earnest conscientiousness of organizers ensuring everyone is fed and hydrated. (He refers to one such person as a “snacktivist.”) Such impolitic material, though, puts serious essays in sharper, more powerful relief. He recalls fending off the flirtations of a 12-year-old boy in France, frustrated by the language barrier and other factors that kept him from supporting a young gay man. His father’s death unlocks a crushing piece about dad’s inappropriate, sexualizing treatment of his children. For years—chronicled in many books—Sedaris labored to elude his father’s criticism. Even in death, though, it proves hard to escape or laugh off.

A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-39245-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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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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