A work that knowledgeably situates the pioneering of a nasty new style of politics.

RIGHT OUT OF CALIFORNIA

THE 1930S AND THE BIG BUSINESS ROOTS OF MODERN CONSERVATISM

A well-focused academic study of how the California agriculture business helped spur the conservative backlash against New Deal policies.

Olmsted (Chair, History/Univ. of California, Davis; Real Enemies: Conspiracy Theories and American Democracy, World War I to 9/11, 2009, etc.) finds in Depression-era California the crucible for strong-arm policies against farm workers that bolstered the conservative movement. A key omission in the New Deal’s early recovery programs for the faltering economy was protection of farm laborers for the same reason, the author notes, they were later excluded from the Social Security Act and the National Labor Relations Act: “powerful Southern Democrats wanted to maintain control over their tenant farmers and sharecroppers.” In California, in particular, the agricultural leaders were both grateful for the subsidies offered by the Agricultural Adjustment Act and determined to bust the unions encouraged by the New Deal. In successive strikes across the state led by prominent communist union organizers like Pat Chambers and Caroline Decker in 1933, as the crops ripened in the fields, harvesters refused to work, hoping to raise wages. In response, the powerful growers would instigate all sorts of intimidation tactics and arrests, and they began to organize themselves—e.g., in the Associated Farmers, a group that “spread the word about the Communist threat.” The agitation prompted bohemian writer sympathizers like John Steinbeck, Ella Winter, and Lincoln Steffens to alert a national audience to the strikers’ cause in their work. One example was Steinbeck’s In Dubious Battle (1936), although, curiously, he eliminated people of color and women to showcase only white men’s struggles. Olmsted examines the federal response in the form of labor chief Frances Perkins’ associate, Gen. Pelham Glassford, who was sent into the Imperial Valley to solve labor disputes, recognizing that “growers were no better than thugs.” The author also discusses the rise of professional political consultants and leaders like Richard Nixon, who perfected the smear campaign.

A work that knowledgeably situates the pioneering of a nasty new style of politics.

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62097-096-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: The New Press

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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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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A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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