A searing indictment and a good choice for readers who have never delved into Trump’s pre-presidential background.

THE MAN WHO SOLD AMERICA

TRUMP AND THE UNRAVELING OF THE AMERICAN STORY

Another heated examination of the current president, who “seems ripped right out of [a] comic book supervillain universe.”

MSNBC political analyst Reid (Fracture: Barack Obama, the Clintons, and the Racial Divide, 2015, etc.), the host of AM Joy, serves up an impassioned exposé of Donald Trump, from his early adult years as an ethically challenged businessman through his first two years as president. As part of the big picture, the author also skewers the corruption of the Republican Party. In fiery prose, Reid delivers a well-researched narrative about how Trump methodically overcame establishment Republican opponents to dominate a political party he had shunned for most of his life. The author terms the new partisan reality the “Trump Republican Party.” She explains how Trump managed to divide the country into factions that constantly battle over both politics and culture. She scrutinizes Trump’s dealings with nations both friendly and hostile, delineating the president’s ugly attraction to “strongmen” in other nations. Russia’s Vladimir Putin is the most prominent example, but others include the dictators of the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, Hungary, and Poland. The chapter in the book containing the least amount of rehashed material is titled “What America Can Learn From South Africa.” Reid’s father is Congolese but spent much of his life working in South Africa, and she explains how Nelson Mandela instituted racial reconciliation as a national imperative, despite the persecution he faced for decades. The “frankness about race, from black and white South Africans, felt refreshing and surprisingly healthy,” she writes. Reid contrasts the selflessness she saw in South Africa with Trump’s self-centered approach of dividing and conquering, especially along racial and cultural faults. Another chapter that moves beyond relating oft-repeated allegations about Trump highlights the author’s frustration at the news media for more or less normalizing his unique cruelty as president.

A searing indictment and a good choice for readers who have never delved into Trump’s pre-presidential background.

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-288010-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 29, 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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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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