A depressing yet enlightening account that mostly overcomes its academic jargon.

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MAKING WAR AT FORT HOOD

LIFE AND UNCERTAINTY IN A MILITARY COMMUNITY

The chronicle of MacLeish’s (Medicine, Health and Society/Vanderbilt Univ.) immersion in the culture of Fort Hood, Texas, to understand daily life on military bases.

The author spent a year observing the rhythms of life and death at Fort Hood, a base with about 55,000 individuals, many of whom have returned to the United States from Iraq and Afghanistan. MacLeish expanded his doctoral thesis in this book, so the language is sometimes arcane, meant for a scholarly audience accustomed to authors devoting significant portions of a book explaining the methodology employed. Such clinical research can seem cold when set against an intentional culture of violence, in which the military troops are being trained to kill. MacLeish opens with a traumatized veteran called Dime, who resides near Fort Hood after experiencing the horrors of war in Iraq. Dime is receiving assistance for his various traumas, but MacLeish suggests that escaping the trauma is especially difficult when living near a military base, where war violence is anticipated and institutionalized—it is the norm, routine. The author ends with the mass killing on the base on November 5, 2009, when Army psychiatrist Nidal Malik Hasan opened fire inside the Fort Hood Soldier Readiness Processing Center. Notwithstanding the Hasan incident, the image of Fort Hood had been suffering because of the base’s recent highest-ever rate of suicide.

A depressing yet enlightening account that mostly overcomes its academic jargon.

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2013

ISBN: 978-0691152745

Page Count: 280

Publisher: Princeton Univ.

Review Posted Online: Dec. 9, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2013

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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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