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

STATE OF RESISTANCE

WHAT CALIFORNIA'S DIZZYING DESCENT AND REMARKABLE RESURGENCE MEANS FOR AMERICA'S FUTURE

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more