A timely, pertinent study emphasizing the fact that when it comes to military or terrorist attacks, “there are always...

SURPRISE ATTACK

FROM PEARL HARBOR TO 9/11 TO BENGHAZI

A valuable examination of U.S. national security crises past and present.

A specialist in national security issues and intelligence, Hancock (Someone Would Have Talked: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy, 2010, etc.) tackles the slippery and continuously vexing subject of surprise attacks against the U.S. Was the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor really a “surprise” since there were numerous warnings, or was it rather a breakdown of the crucial C3, command, control, and communications? As the Soviet Union became the new threat after World War II, intelligence-gathering methods had to be beefed up to combat the growing “fear factors” introduced by the availability of atomic weapons. In the 1950s, the proliferation of alleged UFO sightings became a problem, from New Mexico to Washington, D.C., which underscored the sense of vulnerability of American national security. The Cuban missile crisis was a horrific moment in modern nuclear feasibility, yet Hancock points out the failure of U.S. intelligence in “several potentially disastrous areas” in getting the Soviets to back down. The author follows the evolution of the National Command Authority, culminating in the creation of the new “watch center,” called the Situation Room, to meet new threats, including the shooting of Ronald Reagan in 1982. The emergence “out of the shadows” of stateless terrorists at war with the U.S. occupies the last chapters of this thoroughly researched work, from the PLO seizures of aircraft and ocean liners to terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in 1993 and 2001. Considering the attention given by the Clinton administration to combating terrorism, Hancock notes his surprise at the breakdown in heeding warnings, and he moves step by step in delineating “points of failure.” The 2012 attack on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi underscores the current fragility of diplomatic missions and flimsiness of security.

A timely, pertinent study emphasizing the fact that when it comes to military or terrorist attacks, “there are always warnings.”

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-61902-566-0

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Counterpoint

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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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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A clear and candid contribution to an essential conversation.

SO YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT RACE

Straight talk to blacks and whites about the realities of racism.

In her feisty debut book, Oluo, essayist, blogger, and editor at large at the Establishment magazine, writes from the perspective of a black, queer, middle-class, college-educated woman living in a “white supremacist country.” The daughter of a white single mother, brought up in largely white Seattle, she sees race as “one of the most defining forces” in her life. Throughout the book, Oluo responds to questions that she has often been asked, and others that she wishes were asked, about racism “in our workplace, our government, our homes, and ourselves.” “Is it really about race?” she is asked by whites who insist that class is a greater source of oppression. “Is police brutality really about race?” “What is cultural appropriation?” and “What is the model minority myth?” Her sharp, no-nonsense answers include talking points for both blacks and whites. She explains, for example, “when somebody asks you to ‘check your privilege’ they are asking you to pause and consider how the advantages you’ve had in life are contributing to your opinions and actions, and how the lack of disadvantages in certain areas is keeping you from fully understanding the struggles others are facing.” She unpacks the complicated term “intersectionality”: the idea that social justice must consider “a myriad of identities—our gender, class, race, sexuality, and so much more—that inform our experiences in life.” She asks whites to realize that when people of color talk about systemic racism, “they are opening up all of that pain and fear and anger to you” and are asking that they be heard. After devoting most of the book to talking, Oluo finishes with a chapter on action and its urgency. Action includes pressing for reform in schools, unions, and local governments; boycotting businesses that exploit people of color; contributing money to social justice organizations; and, most of all, voting for candidates who make “diversity, inclusion and racial justice a priority.”

A clear and candid contribution to an essential conversation.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-58005-677-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Seal Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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