THE NIXON MEMO

POLITICAL RESPECTABILITY, RUSSIA, AND THE PRESS

The distinguished former foreign correspondent for CBS and NBC news looks wryly and critically at a 1992 foray into foreign policy by Richard Nixon—and along the way, shows how politicians and press pundits manipulate one another to shape political consensus. Despite Nixon's antagonism to the press, his public life was pervasively shaped by the media, from the 1952 Checkers speech through the Watergate scandal. Nixon had an impact on presidential relations with the media in turn, forging through his wiretaps and enemies lists a hostile relationship between the White House and the press that has lasted until today. Kalb (Press and Public Policy/John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard; In the National Interest, 1977, etc.) points out that Nixon's final attempt to influence public policy was a clever manipulation of the press. On March 10, 1992, he wrote a private memorandum attacking George Bush's policy toward Boris Yeltsin's Russia. Nixon distributed the memorandum to approximately 50 influential Americans hoping, Kalb suggests, that the memo would be leaked to the press. It was, and appeared on the front page of the New York Times, disrupting the foreign policy of the Bush administration and personally embarrassing Bush, then engaged in a campaign for his party's presidential nomination. In exploring why Nixon deliberately tried to undermine a Republican president's foreign policy, Kalb explains how Nixon artfully used the press to effect his political rehabilitation. Journalists, in their quest for a good story, cooperated with Nixon. As Kalb points out, Nixon, a politician whose rise began with his attacks on Democrats for ``losing'' China in the 1950s, ended his career by threatening both Democrats and Republicans with blame for ``losing'' Russia in the 1990s. Kalb presents the story of Nixon's rehabilitation as great and appalling copy, and gives the reader an illuminating peek into some of the darker recesses of the world inside the Beltway.

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 1994

ISBN: 0-226-42299-2

Page Count: 227

Publisher: Univ. of Chicago

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1994

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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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A clear and candid contribution to an essential conversation.

SO YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT RACE

Straight talk to blacks and whites about the realities of racism.

In her feisty debut book, Oluo, essayist, blogger, and editor at large at the Establishment magazine, writes from the perspective of a black, queer, middle-class, college-educated woman living in a “white supremacist country.” The daughter of a white single mother, brought up in largely white Seattle, she sees race as “one of the most defining forces” in her life. Throughout the book, Oluo responds to questions that she has often been asked, and others that she wishes were asked, about racism “in our workplace, our government, our homes, and ourselves.” “Is it really about race?” she is asked by whites who insist that class is a greater source of oppression. “Is police brutality really about race?” “What is cultural appropriation?” and “What is the model minority myth?” Her sharp, no-nonsense answers include talking points for both blacks and whites. She explains, for example, “when somebody asks you to ‘check your privilege’ they are asking you to pause and consider how the advantages you’ve had in life are contributing to your opinions and actions, and how the lack of disadvantages in certain areas is keeping you from fully understanding the struggles others are facing.” She unpacks the complicated term “intersectionality”: the idea that social justice must consider “a myriad of identities—our gender, class, race, sexuality, and so much more—that inform our experiences in life.” She asks whites to realize that when people of color talk about systemic racism, “they are opening up all of that pain and fear and anger to you” and are asking that they be heard. After devoting most of the book to talking, Oluo finishes with a chapter on action and its urgency. Action includes pressing for reform in schools, unions, and local governments; boycotting businesses that exploit people of color; contributing money to social justice organizations; and, most of all, voting for candidates who make “diversity, inclusion and racial justice a priority.”

A clear and candid contribution to an essential conversation.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-58005-677-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Seal Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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