This brisk book vividly conjures up the bristling radical politics of the 1920s and the fruits of a fertile combination of two political pathologies, racism and anticommunist hysteria. It should enlighten a broad audience on a period and a type of racial and political suppression less well known than those of later decades. Indeed, the development of the government's ideology and practice of espionage on black movements that Kornweibel (African American History/San Diego State Univ.) efficiently describes went on to become the basis for the surveillance and red-baiting of the civil-rights movement in the 1960s (see Gerald D. McKnight, The Last Crusade, p. 38). We are reminded, as Kornweibel outlines the emergence of the multiplicity of government intelligence organs after WW I, that Martin Luther King Jr.'s dedicated enemy at the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover, and his notorious filing system got their start way back in 1919, at what was then the Bureau of Investigation's General Intelligence Division. Efficiently deploying his archival research, Kornweibel focuses on specific intelligence campaigns against black radical publications and organizations, including the NAACP and A. Philip Randolph's newspaper the Messenger. The case of the relatively moderate NAACP demonstrates that even though supposed communist links were the pretext for intelligence tactics against black political groups, the suspicion and suppression of them during the Red Scare ``was not limited to the genuinely radical voices.'' Especially notable is the chapter on the surveillance of Marcus Garvey for its additional twist on the situation, the work of black government informers who infiltrated black organizations. Kornweibel's matter-of-fact treatment avoids rancor, allows the charged events to speak for themselves, showing how ``the political agenda of many white Americanswhite supremacybecame the security agenda of powerful arms of the national government.''

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-253-33337-7

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Indiana Univ.

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


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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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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