Provocative and deftly argued, Pastor's book reminds us that the future is unwritten and that it always has deep roots in,...




A look at the recent history of California and what it may mean for the future of the United States.

Presenting both a broad overview and also a series of sharply specific deep dives, Pastor (Sociology/Univ. of Southern California; co-author: Equity, Growth, and Community: What the Nation Can Learn from America's Metro Areas, 2015, etc.) traces the story of California since the 1950s, making a compelling case that the state’s revival over the last decade or so offers a road map for America in the age of Trump. It’s a landscape the author knows intimately; at USC, he co-directs the University’s Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration. Here, he develops a multifaceted argument: that California’s growth and prosperity was a direct result of forward-looking policies, including free higher education and vast infrastructure projects; that its decline, growing out of the economic insecurities of the 1980s and 1990s, was triggered by xenophobia and protectionism; and that its restoration is the product of progressive political alliances that have made the state a model for national resistance. It’s a lot to pack into roughly 200 pages (minus notes), but Pastor pulls it off. He is a knowledgeable guide who writes with fluid authority that is accessible but detailed. Furthermore, his book is no facile defense of exceptionalism but rather a nuanced examination of both the state’s complicity in pioneering various destructive policies (reckless tax cutting, anti-immigrant efforts at the ballot box) and its emergence, in the aftermath, as a new political and social landscape, intersectional and built from the grass roots up. “Can the rest of the United States learn from the California story?” Pastor wonders. “The Golden State has its own peculiar history and there is no one size fits all….But no matter how the message may be received, Californians have a special responsibility to communicate what they have learned.”

Provocative and deftly argued, Pastor's book reminds us that the future is unwritten and that it always has deep roots in, and connections to, the past.

Pub Date: April 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62097-329-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: The New Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 25, 2018

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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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...


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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