Fully restores Adams to his rightful place as an indispensable provocateur of American liberty.

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SAMUEL ADAMS

FATHER OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION

A brief, sharply focused biography of the mastermind behind the American colonies’ break with England, and the drive for independence.

Now that McCullough’s John Adams (2001) and Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton (2004) have removed those luminaries’ names from the list of America’s most underrated Founders, how about Samuel Adams? Former Detroit News reporter Puls acknowledges that Adams’s work was hampered by his destruction of correspondence and private papers crucial to any understanding of the man’s interior life. A pity, because by all accounts, the flesh-and-blood Samuel Adams was, with the possible exception of Tom Paine, the most accessible of all. Wholly without his cousin John Adams’s vanity, Washington’s studied presentation of self, Jefferson’s occasional smarminess or Hamilton’s defensive pride, Adams was at home and in touch with the common man. Notwithstanding the lofty phrases (many of which he penned) adorning liberty’s banner, Adams knew that real freedom required the harnessing of the masses, the crowd whose contribution to American independence might constitute, say, toting a tomahawk for the Boston Tea Party, or an ice-packed snowball for the Boston Massacre, or a musket for the Continental Army. Adams served as the ideal interlocutor between the often inchoate aspirations of the mob and the eloquent political engineering of his learned contemporaries in Massachusetts and the other colonies. Briefly a tax collector and later a failed brewer (though a contemporary popular microbrew serves as his namesake), he became the foremost agitator for American independence and its most successful backroom strategist. His jawboning, oratory and writing reconciled any number of competing agendas, all in the interest of his political goal. For most of his public life, Adams earned as much enmity from George III’s ministers as he did sincere affection from his American contemporaries.

Fully restores Adams to his rightful place as an indispensable provocateur of American liberty.

Pub Date: Oct. 14, 2006

ISBN: 1-4039-7582-5

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 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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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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