“An America where people . . . lived in fear of terrorists and the government would no longer be the same country,”...

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FORTRESS AMERICA

ON THE FRONT LINES OF HOMELAND SECURITY--AN INSIDE LOOK AT THE COMING SURVEILLANCE STATE

Big Brother may have been dozing on 9/11, but you can bet he’s watching you now.

The line between liberty and security is thin, writes former Wall Street Journal correspondent Brzezinski (Casino Moscow, 2001). It’s getting thinner, and liberty is losing as America’s intelligence services struggle to catch up with events. It’s not that they didn’t have a head start: Brzezinski opens this bracing narrative with an anecdote set in the Philippines in January 1995, when al Qaeda operatives were caught plotting to destroy a dozen American airliners simultaneously. “We told the Americans about the plans to turn planes into flying bombs as far back as 1995.” Brzezinski quotes a Filipino police officer. “Why didn’t they pay attention?” Now, armed with a battery of constitutionally questionable laws, those services are scrambling to secure a daunting inventory of potential targets; as Brzezinski notes, for instance, most of America’s nuclear power plants are easily accessible to outsiders, and “the United States has 600,000 bridges to protect and 14,000 small airports from which terrorists can wreak havoc.” Given our failure to curb the drug trade, the utter lack of screening of airborne cargo, and the fact that just about anyone can walk into the White House, it seems reasonable to assume that terrorists will find a tempting target—and that they’ll succeed. Brzezinski offers examples of security operations that get it right, many of them to be found, not surprisingly, in Israel, where, one agent tells him, “Even the lowest beat cop . . . knows things that would be considered top secret in the States.” In other words, security need not mean secrecy, pace John Ashcroft and gang.

“An America where people . . . lived in fear of terrorists and the government would no longer be the same country,” Brzezinski cautions. That world may be upon us. An alarming, wholly provocative work.

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2004

ISBN: 0-553-80366-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Bantam

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2004

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Dramatic, immersive, and wanting—much like desire itself.

THREE WOMEN

Based on eight years of reporting and thousands of hours of interaction, a journalist chronicles the inner worlds of three women’s erotic desires.

In her dramatic debut about “what longing in America looks like,” Taddeo, who has contributed to Esquire, Elle, and other publications, follows the sex lives of three American women. On the surface, each woman’s story could be a soap opera. There’s Maggie, a teenager engaged in a secret relationship with her high school teacher; Lina, a housewife consumed by a torrid affair with an old flame; and Sloane, a wealthy restaurateur encouraged by her husband to sleep with other people while he watches. Instead of sensationalizing, the author illuminates Maggie’s, Lina’s, and Sloane’s erotic experiences in the context of their human complexities and personal histories, revealing deeper wounds and emotional yearnings. Lina’s infidelity was driven by a decade of her husband’s romantic and sexual refusal despite marriage counseling and Lina's pleading. Sloane’s Fifty Shades of Grey–like lifestyle seems far less exotic when readers learn that she has felt pressured to perform for her husband's pleasure. Taddeo’s coverage is at its most nuanced when she chronicles Maggie’s decision to go to the authorities a few years after her traumatic tryst. Recounting the subsequent trial against Maggie’s abuser, the author honors the triumph of Maggie’s courageous vulnerability as well as the devastating ramifications of her community’s disbelief. Unfortunately, this book on “female desire” conspicuously omits any meaningful discussion of social identities beyond gender and class; only in the epilogue does Taddeo mention race and its impacts on women's experiences with sex and longing. Such oversight brings a palpable white gaze to the narrative. Compounded by the author’s occasionally lackluster prose, the book’s flaws compete with its meaningful contribution to #MeToo–era reporting.

Dramatic, immersive, and wanting—much like desire itself.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4516-4229-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 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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