Important research impressively assembled.

REAGAN’S SECRET WAR

THE UNTOLD STORY OF HIS FIGHT TO SAVE THE WORLD FROM NUCLEAR DISASTER

A husband-and-wife writing team present persuasive evidence of Ronald Reagan’s decisive role in ending the Cold War.

The Andersons—who have already proven that Reagan wrote more gracefully than previously suspected (Reagan: A Life in Letters, 2003, etc.)—seek to dispel the notion that Reagan slept through his presidency, an “amiable dunce” fortunate to occupy the Oval Office while the Soviet Union imploded. Using memorandums of conversations, transcripts of summit meetings, letters, drafts and final versions of speeches, Reagan’s personal diary, press-conference transcripts and newly declassified National Security Council minutes, the authors demonstrate Reagan’s obsession, which predated his presidency, with the nuclear threat and his determination to do something about it. More tellingly, these documents prove that Reagan’s voice was the guiding intelligence behind his administration’s strategy for besting the Soviets. Oftentimes ignoring or overruling his advisors, even dismissing high-profile appointees—including Secretary of State Al Haig—who failed to implement his policy, Reagan strove to right the economy, bolster the military and, most controversially, push the idea of a Strategic Defense Initiative to persuade the Soviet Union that it could not possibly win an arms race with America. Although the Andersons allude to events that distracted Reagan—assassination attempt, re-election campaign, the Iran-Contra scandal—the focus remains on the president’s single-minded determination to fashion a world without nuclear weapons. Although their commentary occasionally lapses into cheerleading—Nancy Reagan’s repartee with Andrei Gromyko can hardly be described as “sophisticated”—the authors allow these remarkable documents to speak for themselves.

Important research impressively assembled.

Pub Date: June 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-307-23861-0

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2009

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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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