A chilling cautionary tale of Orwellian repercussions.

SPIRAL

TRAPPED IN THE FOREVER WAR

A somber examination of why the war on terror has stretched over 15 years and appears to have no end in sight.

Fear has created what Danner (Journalism and English/Univ. of California; Stripping Bare the Body: Politics Violence War, 2009, etc.) calls the sense of “permanent emergency” among the American public and administration alike in keeping the wars in the Middle East percolating. In this poignant, thoughtful plea for accountability and a change of course, the author shows how the terrorists, specifically al-Qaida and the Islamic State group, have succeeded spectacularly in their aims of drawing Americans into a “forever war.” He begins with 9/11 and the emergency measures put in place immediately under the administration of George W. Bush, starting with Congress’ Authorization for Use of Military Force and the Patriot Act. Privately, there were presidential memorandums empowering the CIA to proceed with “the capture and detention of Al Qaeda terrorists” and the military order on the “detention, treatment, and trial of certain non-citizens in the war against terrorism,” redefining the captured as “detainees” and “unlawful combatants” rather than “prisoners of war” and thus ineligible for protections by the Geneva Convention statues. From Bush’s creation of this “state of exception”—defined as a time during which, “in the name of security, some of our accustomed rights and freedoms are circumscribed or set aside”—President Barack Obama has “normalized” it, despite his best intentions: “This is not who we are.” Danner emphasizes the irony of this ongoing “secret war”—which he compares to Argentina’s Dirty Wars of the 1970s—by the Nobel Prize–winning president, who cannot close Guantánamo or repeal AUMF and whose “light footprint” strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan includes targeted killings by drones and other “expansive use of the power of secrecy.” Only through politics and education can we dispel the “twilight world” of perpetual war in which we are mired.

A chilling cautionary tale of Orwellian repercussions.

Pub Date: June 14, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4776-7

Page Count: 264

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016

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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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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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