Whether or not Schwarz’s principles catch on, his clearheaded, moderate analysis and commitment to moral rigor and civic...

COMMON CREDO

THE PATH BACK TO AMERICAN SUCCESS

A political science professor reassesses the meaning and role of government in an age of partisanship.

There is no question that partisan politics is more volatile than ever, writes Schwarz (Freedom Reclaimed: Rediscovering the American Vision, 2004, etc.), and such a crippling divide is the root of America’s recent economic crisis, among other problems. Moreover, there is an overwhelming sense that the interests of our elected statesmen are being subverted by corporate lobbyists and the constant pressures of an ever-looming election cycle. This is the political climate as Schwarz views it, and such dysfunction inspired him to step back and re-examine how our system of governance has become so paralyzed. The problem, he writes, is that both political parties are equally guilty of abandoning the political philosophy of the Founding Fathers, which he defines as a vision of freedom that is not self-serving but inclusionary, for the benefit of all citizens. Furthermore, Schwarz attacks both Democratic and Republican platforms: Democrats lack a solid, agreed-upon foundation from which to ground their policy, and Republicans reductively pursue small government and free market zealotry. Providing examples of these flawed perspectives—on health care, the economy, the environment and other areas—Schwarz posits his “Common Credo” as a solution. The 10 principles of the credo outline the limits of governmental power in a way that is designed to follow the ideals of the founders by keeping bureaucracy small but supporting those that need it. While the tenets of the credo are mostly self-evident rehashes of early American political philosophy, the author offers sensible expansions and is at his best when taking to task any issue he sees as morally inconsistent or dishonest, regardless of party or ideology.

Whether or not Schwarz’s principles catch on, his clearheaded, moderate analysis and commitment to moral rigor and civic duty are encouraging.

Pub Date: Aug. 19, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-87140-339-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Liveright/Norton

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2013

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ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN

Bernstein and Woodward, the two Washington Post journalists who broke the Big Story, tell how they did it by old fashioned seat-of-the-pants reporting — in other words, lots of intuition and a thick stack of phone numbers. They've saved a few scoops for the occasion, the biggest being the name of their early inside source, the "sacrificial lamb" H**h Sl**n. But Washingtonians who talked will be most surprised by the admission that their rumored contacts in the FBI and elsewhere never existed; many who were telephoned for "confirmation" were revealing more than they realized. The real drama, and there's plenty of it, lies in the private-eye tactics employed by Bernstein and Woodward (they refer to themselves in the third person, strictly on a last name basis). The centerpiece of their own covert operation was an unnamed high government source they call Deep Throat, with whom Woodward arranged secret meetings by positioning the potted palm on his balcony and through codes scribbled in his morning newspaper. Woodward's wee hours meetings with Deep Throat in an underground parking garage are sheer cinema: we can just see Robert Redford (it has to be Robert Redford) watching warily for muggers and stubbing out endless cigarettes while Deep Throat spills the inside dope about the plumbers. Then too, they amass enough seamy detail to fascinate even the most avid Watergate wallower — what a drunken and abusive Mitchell threatened to do to Post publisher Katherine Graham's tit, and more on the Segretti connection — including the activities of a USC campus political group known as the Ratfuckers whose former members served as a recruiting pool for the Nixon White House. As the scandal goes public and out of their hands Bernstein and Woodward seem as stunned as the rest of us at where their search for the "head ratfucker" has led. You have to agree with what their City Editor Barry Sussman realized way back in the beginning — "We've never had a story like this. Just never."

Pub Date: June 18, 1974

ISBN: 0671894412

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974

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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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