HOW MANY AMERICANS?

POPULATION, IMMIGRATION AND THE ENVIRONMENT

Though dry, a cogent and insistent brief for restricting immigration, from an environmental perspective. Bouvier (Demography/Tulane Univ.) and Grant (Elephants in a Volkswagen, not reviewed) believe that the current US population of 250 million is already too large. We consume more than any nation, the authors write, citing ominous statistics regarding environmental degradation, hazardous wastes, the costs of energy, and agricultural damage. The nexus between population growth and environmental damage, or immigration and the decline of the cities (because immigrants take low-wage jobs away from the domestic poor), however, may not be as direct as they argue. Bouvier and Grant go on to project population patterns through the year 2050, suggesting that the force driving growth is immigration, due to the higher fertility rates of immigrants. If we do nothing to control population, they predict that either scarcity will be spread among rich and poor with increased social controls or else ``Third World'' inequalities will prevail. The authors recommend policies to lower fertility (better birth control, access to abortion), but argue that immigration must also be curbed: With low fertility and current immigration levels, they estimate, the population in 2100 will be 300 million; with drastically lowered immigration, it will be under 200 million. Their recommendation: Cut legal immigration from 800,000 a year to 200,000, and—a far more difficult task—try to curb clandestine immigration. If this were to occur, the authors project, the environment, the economy, and the cities would improve. Bouvier and Grant aren't know-nothing nationalists: They believe the US should support economic, health, and education projects that help Third World countries control fertility. Moreover, they resist charges of xenophobia and racism, suggesting that we must look at the ``quality of life for all Americans.'' Not always convincing, but a worthy stimulus to discussing a topic too often left ``in official limbo.''

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 1994

ISBN: 0-87156-496-3

Page Count: 184

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1994

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However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS

Maya Angelou is a natural writer with an inordinate sense of life and she has written an exceptional autobiographical narrative which retrieves her first sixteen years from "the general darkness just beyond the great blinkers of childhood."

Her story is told in scenes, ineluctably moving scenes, from the time when she and her brother were sent by her fancy living parents to Stamps, Arkansas, and a grandmother who had the local Store. Displaced they were and "If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat." But alternating with all the pain and terror (her rape at the age of eight when in St. Louis With her mother) and humiliation (a brief spell in the kitchen of a white woman who refused to remember her name) and fear (of a lynching—and the time they buried afflicted Uncle Willie under a blanket of vegetables) as well as all the unanswered and unanswerable questions, there are affirmative memories and moments: her charming brother Bailey; her own "unshakable God"; a revival meeting in a tent; her 8th grade graduation; and at the end, when she's sixteen, the birth of a baby. Times When as she says "It seemed that the peace of a day's ending was an assurance that the covenant God made with children, Negroes and the crippled was still in effect."

However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1969

ISBN: 0375507892

Page Count: 235

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1969

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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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