A harrowing chronicle of a fight for justice.

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NORTH OF HAVANA

THE UNTOLD STORY OF DIRTY POLITICS, SECRET DIPLOMACY, AND THE TRIAL OF THE CUBAN FIVE

An account of the anti-Castro hatred that infected 1990s Miami.

In 1996, a Cuban jet fighter downed a plane flying over Cuban airspace dropping anti-Castro leaflets, a mission sanctioned by Miami’s right-wing Cuban exiles. Immediately, the enraged Cuban community called for justice, and five men—none of whom had been in Cuba at the time—were arrested, tried, convicted for spying, and imprisoned in the United States. One of them, Gerardo Hernández, received 2 life sentences. Ten years later, eminent trial lawyer Garbus (The Next 25 Years: The New Supreme Court and What It Means for Americans, 2007, etc.), after reading more than 20,000 pages of trial transcript and “a mountain of connected documents,” decided to represent Hernández to reverse his conviction, convinced that his client was innocent and had been denied a fair trial. By the time he took the case, Garbus already had a distinguished career defending prominent dissidents, including Daniel Ellsberg, Cesar Chavez, and the Cuban poet Heberto Padilla. Although he realized that Hernández’s case was “nearly hopeless,” he admits that “by psychology, instinct, and training, I respond to injustice by running toward it, to see what I can do to correct it.” The trial of the Cuban Five, as the defendants came to be known, was rife with misconduct: an inexperienced judge who rejected six motions for a change of venue, forcing the trial to proceed in a community “actively organized against the defendants”; inflammatory pre-trial publicity that amounted to a “propaganda crusade”; ineffective defense strategy; and an inevitably biased jury. Garbus chronicles his efforts to win justice for Hernández, a combination of dogged work, luck, surprising new evidence, and an evolving political climate in which a thaw in Cuban–U.S. relations seemed possible. He movingly portrays the pain, degradation, and hardship his client experienced as well as his own frustrations with prison officials who “complicated and interfered” with his work in every way possible. His impassioned book is both an indictment of the legal system and a plea for prison reform.

A harrowing chronicle of a fight for justice.

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-62097-446-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: The New Press

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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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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