ALL GOD'S CHILDREN NEED TRAVELING SHOES

The hauntingly evocative and poetic continuation of the autobiography that began with I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1970). We are now in the early 1960's with Angelouson a brief stopover in Accra to enroll her 17-year-old son in the University of Ghana. Guy, however, is nearly killed in a ear accident, and Angelou must give up plans to work for the US Information Agency in Liberia. She gets a job at the university, writes articles for a local newspaper and becomes part of the black American expatriate community. To get close to her motherland, the great mysterious continent of her ancestors, Angelou learns to speak Fanti, dresses Ghanian style and gradually makes African friends. There is Comfort, the lusty, laughing young woman who styles her hair, and who later dies of a curse put on her by a rival for a man's heart. There is Kojo, the charming "small boy" who does errands about the house she shares with two other expatriates. One day his entire family travels from a distant village laden with gifts of food—their thanks to her for teaching Kojo "Brioni (white) ways of thinking." The masterful Sheikhali wants to make Angelou his number two wife and cannot understand why her father does not come from America to negotiate the marriage. She also entertains numerous visitors from abroad, among them Malcolm X who, at book's end, has persuaded her to return home to work for the Organization of African-American Unity. Before leaving, however, she visits the port of Keta, where various women mistake her for a relative or an acquaintance. She realizes that the people bear a strong resemblance to her mother's family and—learning that the town was once a center of the slave trade—she thinks, "I had not consciously come to Ghana to find the roots of my beginnings, but I had accidentally tripped over them or fallen upon them in my everyday life. And here in my last days in Africa, descendants of a pillaged past saw their history in my face and heard their ancestors speak through my voice." In sum, the human heart of Africa reaching out to one of its displaced children, deepening that child's understanding of herself and her heritage.

Pub Date: April 8, 1986

ISBN: 067973404X

Page Count: 218

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1986

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A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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