An important, multifaceted page-turner.

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UNREAL CITY

LAS VEGAS, BLACK MESA, AND THE FATE OF THE WEST

A hard-hitting chronicle of the hidden history behind the creation of Las Vegas, including a large-scale resource grab and a grand plan to drive the Navajo people off their lands, abetted by corruption at the highest levels of government.

Nies (The Girl I Left Behind: A Narrative History of the Sixties, 2008, etc.) chanced on the story in 1982, when she was given press credentials to a conference in Phoenix, Ariz., ostensibly celebrating Hopi arts and culture and featuring Robert Redford, Barry Goldwater and top corporate executives. The author began to have doubts as the story unfolded of a supposed “centuries-old land dispute” between the peaceful Hopi and aggressive Navajo Indians over a jointly occupied 4,000-square-mile reservation in the Black Mesa, a region in the Arizona desert that was located over 21 billion tons of coal. Thousands of Navajo sheepherders were resisting being forcibly relocated from their lands and losing their livelihood. Over time, Nies documented how divide-and-rule politics were being used to screen a major corporate land grab intended to gain access to the massive coal reserves. This led her to the powerful interests behind the Las Vegas gambling empire, which included the Goldwater family. She also investigated the broader water politics of the region, including the current depletion of major water sources such as Lake Mead and the Colorado River—a situation made worse by climate change. “Las Vegas has the highest per capita use of water in the country,” she writes. Coal-powered plants are required to light the casinos and pump in the water for their ostentatious displays and to support the large population of visitors and residents. Nies situates what began as an apparently local issue in a broader context. A seeming dispute between two tribes, she writes, is “actually an example of a global phenomenon in which giant transnational corporations have the power to separate indigenous people from their energy-rich lands with the help of host governments.”

An important, multifaceted page-turner.

Pub Date: April 8, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-56858-748-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Nation Books

Review Posted Online: March 8, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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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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