THE TYRANNY OF THE MAJORITY

FUNDAMENTAL FAIRNESS IN REPRESENTATIVE DEMOCRACY

The nominee for assistant attorney general for civil rights who was dumped by President Clinton in the face of right-wing pressure offers the academic writings that were distorted into soundbites and led to her being labeled a ``quota queen'' by the Wall Street Journal and others. Guinier (Law/Univ. of Pennsylvania) proclaims herself a ``democratic idealist,'' and in her introductory chapter she claims credibly that her ideas are not out of the mainstream. Unfortunately, as Yale law professor Stephen Carter (The Culture of Disbelief, 1993) states in a savvy preface, the withdrawal of Guinier's nomination deprived us of a chance at a ``national seminar'' on race and politics. Guinier's footnote-laden essays, aimed at academics, are heavy going, but her points are challenging. The Voting Rights Act, she argues, has been more successful in achieving the election of black officials than in altering the conditions of their constituents. She cogently suggests that winner-take-all voting systems that consistently exclude minorities are undemocratic. But she argues against remedy by gerrymandering, calling attention, in an example, to the status of blacks and Asians in New York City's new, geographically distorted ``Latino'' congressional district. Instead, she advocates cumulative voting, which is used in corporate elections. Thus, in at-large races for several seats, a minority voter can wield influence by clustering his or her several ballots for a preferred candidate. Yes, Guinier's view of the ideological homogeneity of African-Americans calls for debate, but her much-lambasted critique of who is an ``authentic'' black leader is actually fairly subtle, if murkily expressed. More an artifact than a full exposition of the issues involved, but a primary source response to a craven episode in nomination history.

Pub Date: March 16, 1994

ISBN: 0-02-913172-3

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1994

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

Did you like this book?

more