A provocative addition to the literature of race, racism, and resistance.

FEAR OF BLACK CONSCIOUSNESS

An Afro-Jewish philosopher looks at Black consciousness and the struggle against pervasive White supremacist social structures.

“Racism is the institutional production of nonhuman status to groups of human beings,” writes Gordon, head of the philosophy department at the University of Connecticut, “with the consequence of a ‘race’ or set of ‘races’ being treated as inferior or superior to others.” Certainly, that is manifest in most working definitions of White supremacy, although, as he adds, these days most adherents of that doctrine prefer somewhat blander terms such as alt-right or white nationalism. Furthermore, argues the author, that racism exists on the left as well as the right. He suggests that small-b black consciousness accommodates this system, whereas what is needed is “to become actional, to fight against oppression”—i.e., to take up the cause of a capital-B Black consciousness that repudiates all ideas of White supremacy and Black inferiority. Gordon stretches a bit, though in the end convincingly, to incorporate the film Black Panther into this evolution. The author sometimes paints with too wide a brush, as when he asserts that “whites want everything,” a charge that would certainly risk alienating well-meaning allies. Nonetheless, the author has a keen understanding of the supremacist playbook, which draws on a range of old-school and neofascist sources to arrive at the maxim that the only way to make oneself superior is to make another inferior. Here, Gordon broadens the discussion to include intersectionality and the “understanding that race is connected to a multitude of other ways of living in the Euromodern world, including class, gender, indigeneity, and sexuality,” with new discriminations at each juncture. Racism is not supremacism as such, he holds, but both can be defeated with the new Black consciousness that both of them fear.

A provocative addition to the literature of race, racism, and resistance.

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-374-15902-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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Everything about Sabathia is larger than life, yet he tells his story with honesty and humility.

TILL THE END

One of the best pitchers of his generation—and often the only Black man on his team—shares an extraordinary life in baseball.

A high school star in several sports, Sabathia was being furiously recruited by both colleges and professional teams when the death of his grandmother, whose Social Security checks supported the family, meant that he couldn't go to college even with a full scholarship. He recounts how he learned he had been drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the first round over the PA system at his high school. In 2001, after three seasons in the minor leagues, Sabathia became the youngest player in MLB (age 20). His career took off from there, and in 2008, he signed with the New York Yankees for seven years and $161 million, at the time the largest contract ever for a pitcher. With the help of Vanity Fair contributor Smith, Sabathia tells the entertaining story of his 19 seasons on and off the field. The first 14 ran in tandem with a poorly hidden alcohol problem and a propensity for destructive bar brawls. His high school sweetheart, Amber, who became his wife and the mother of his children, did her best to help him manage his repressed fury and grief about the deaths of two beloved cousins and his father, but Sabathia pursued drinking with the same "till the end" mentality as everything else. Finally, a series of disasters led to a month of rehab in 2015. Leading a sober life was necessary, but it did not tame Sabathia's trademark feistiness. He continued to fiercely rile his opponents and foment the fighting spirit in his teammates until debilitating injuries to his knees and pitching arm led to his retirement in 2019. This book represents an excellent launching point for Jay-Z’s new imprint, Roc Lit 101.

Everything about Sabathia is larger than life, yet he tells his story with honesty and humility.

Pub Date: July 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-13375-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Roc Lit 101

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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