Opinionated, self-deprecating and humorous—and for supporters of Israel, an unwelcome interpretation of the situation there.

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MISREPRESENTING THE MIDDLE EAST

A Dutch journalist’s reflective take on the difficulties inherent in covering the news from the Middle East, where he was a reporter from 1998 to 2003.

When Luyendijk was hired by the newspaper Volkskrant and Dutch Radio 1 News to be their Middle East correspondent, the novice journalist gradually came to the conclusion that good journalism in a dictatorship is a contradiction in terms because of four factors: fear, the absence of verifiable facts and figures, the vulnerability of sources and, finally, the most important element, the dictatorship itself. The author takes readers behind the scenes of so-called on-the-spot reporting, where the journalist has no more access to facts than his editor in an office half way across the globe. The wire services—Associated Press, Reuters, etc.—are the principal sources of news, and Luyendijk compares the production of news to that of bread in a factory: “The correspondents stand at the end of the conveyor belt, pretending we’ve baked the white loaf ourselves, while in fact all we’ve done is put it in its wrapping.” What the public wants to hear, he asserts, is often what the media reports, providing people with views that jibe with their preconceived notions. Luyendijk divides his report into three parts: his early years learning the ropes, his time covering the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the lead-up to the war in Iraq. In the author’s view the Israelis are masters of public relations, much better than the Palestinians at fighting the media war, with the result that terrorism receives more coverage than the occupation. As for the American government’s public-relations effort preceding the invasion of Iraq, Luyendijk writes that “the creators of Disney World were at work.” Personal anecdotes and jokes lighten the author’s serious message about the flaws in the system that produces what passes for news from the Arab world. Originally published in the Netherlands in 2006, the book includes an Afterword in which Luyendijk summarizes the problems and offers suggestions for change.

Opinionated, self-deprecating and humorous—and for supporters of Israel, an unwelcome interpretation of the situation there.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-59376-256-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Soft Skull Press

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2009

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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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A clear and candid contribution to an essential conversation.

SO YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT RACE

Straight talk to blacks and whites about the realities of racism.

In her feisty debut book, Oluo, essayist, blogger, and editor at large at the Establishment magazine, writes from the perspective of a black, queer, middle-class, college-educated woman living in a “white supremacist country.” The daughter of a white single mother, brought up in largely white Seattle, she sees race as “one of the most defining forces” in her life. Throughout the book, Oluo responds to questions that she has often been asked, and others that she wishes were asked, about racism “in our workplace, our government, our homes, and ourselves.” “Is it really about race?” she is asked by whites who insist that class is a greater source of oppression. “Is police brutality really about race?” “What is cultural appropriation?” and “What is the model minority myth?” Her sharp, no-nonsense answers include talking points for both blacks and whites. She explains, for example, “when somebody asks you to ‘check your privilege’ they are asking you to pause and consider how the advantages you’ve had in life are contributing to your opinions and actions, and how the lack of disadvantages in certain areas is keeping you from fully understanding the struggles others are facing.” She unpacks the complicated term “intersectionality”: the idea that social justice must consider “a myriad of identities—our gender, class, race, sexuality, and so much more—that inform our experiences in life.” She asks whites to realize that when people of color talk about systemic racism, “they are opening up all of that pain and fear and anger to you” and are asking that they be heard. After devoting most of the book to talking, Oluo finishes with a chapter on action and its urgency. Action includes pressing for reform in schools, unions, and local governments; boycotting businesses that exploit people of color; contributing money to social justice organizations; and, most of all, voting for candidates who make “diversity, inclusion and racial justice a priority.”

A clear and candid contribution to an essential conversation.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-58005-677-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Seal Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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