A vivid history of passionate protest.

MAYDAY 1971

A WHITE HOUSE AT WAR, A REVOLT IN THE STREETS, AND THE UNTOLD HISTORY OF AMERICA'S BIGGEST MASS ARREST

A participant in a crucial anti-war demonstration recalls the tension and peril of the moment.

In May 1971, investigative editor Roberts, then a 19-year-old college student, joined in a huge protest against the Vietnam War that resulted in the arrest of more than 12,000 people, the author included. Making his book debut, Roberts offers a perceptive, thoroughly researched accounting of the intense, often divisive movement that led to an event marking 10 years from the time John F. Kennedy sent “a few hundred soldiers and advisers to South Vietnam.” By the time of the protest, more than 2 million Americans had served, and 275,000 still were deployed. Lyndon Johnson expanded the war, costing him the presidency, and Richard Nixon inherited the conflict, advised by his hawkish national security chief, Henry Kissinger. Protests, begun in 1965 with a teach-in at the University of Michigan, had grown year by year. By spring 1971, several organizations worked to strategize for “ambitious antiwar demonstrations”: the People’s Coalition for Peace and Justice, the Mayday Tribe, the National Peace Action Coalition, and Vietnam Veterans Against the War. The Nixon White House, the FBI, and Washington, D.C., police also needed to strategize, confronted with a conglomeration of “1930s-style radicals, back-to-the-land hippies, campus intellectuals, would-be revolutionaries, middle-class liberals, black-power evangelists,” and young radicals known as Yippies. Because the groups had no designated leader, law enforcement agencies found it difficult to keep track of who was who, where they were, and what level of violence they endorsed. Drawing on government and private archives, news articles, and many interviews with participants, Roberts creates a tense, brisk narrative covering 10 weeks that began in March with a bomb explosion in the U.S. Capitol and ended with lawyers’ efforts to free the thousands arrested. He offers sharply drawn portraits of key White House personnel and of many protestors, including Yippies Stew Albert and his girlfriend, Judy Gumbo; activists Rennie Davis and David Dellinger; and John Kerry, a prominent member of VVAW.

A vivid history of passionate protest.

Pub Date: July 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-328-76672-4

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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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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