A sincere, prescriptive text on a vital subject that deserves a stronger treatment.

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WAKING UP FROM WAR

A BETTER WAY HOME FOR VETERANS AND NATIONS

A practitioner of diverse palliative arts considers the towering problem of war-inflicted trauma on military members, their families, and the community.

Bobrow (Zen and Psychotherapy: Partners in Liberation, 2010) is the founding proprietor of the Coming Home Project, a nonprofit program that seeks to combine intervention, prevention, and treatment for scarred veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. On scenic retreats, the program offers an “integrative, bio-psycho-social/family-spiritual approach,” bringing “secular rituals” to veterans, who share, bond, self-regulate, focus on purpose, meditate, and practice yoga and qi gong. There are also “polyvagal theory” and art sessions, journal writing, and talent shows. Bobrow prescribes “turning ghosts into ancestors,” but what that actually means remains obscure. The author supports his arguments with illustrative anecdotes and comments from satisfied participants, but he doesn’t provide enough information about long-term efficacy. Bobrow is a psychoanalyst and a Zen master who writes a truly heartfelt indictment against a system that inflicts such grievous harm on those it sends to war while most at home have little or nothing at stake. The author excoriates the Department of Veteran Affairs, the Department of Defense, reckless officials like Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and George W. Bush, and, especially, those dysfunctional agencies that do not embrace his holistic techniques. By providing scant care for the ravages of rape, the moral injuries, the consequences of PTSD, and the patent dangers of suicide, these institutions have betrayed the traumatized fighters and their families. Bobrow is especially vigorous and self-assured in writing about the evil of war itself, but the New Age jargon does some disservice to his righteous message. Too frequently, it smacks of an infomercial for Coming Home retreats. The author concludes with some 27 recommendations that may be of more value to fellow practitioners than the general public. An appendix contains three original narrative poems.

A sincere, prescriptive text on a vital subject that deserves a stronger treatment.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-63431-032-1

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Pitchstone Publishing

Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2015

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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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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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