A lucid and provocative look at the geopolitics of energy and the shifts and dislocations it is likely to produce.

WINDFALL

HOW THE NEW ENERGY ABUNDANCE UPENDS GLOBAL POLITICS AND STRENGTHENS AMERICA'S POWER

Remember when the world was running out of oil? The good news is that energy is abundant, at least for the time being. As for the bad news….

The era of peak oil has peaked. In just the last decade, writes O’Sullivan (Practice of International Affairs/Kennedy School of Government, Harvard Univ.; Shrewd Sanctions: Statecraft and State Sponsors of Terrorism, 2003, etc.), “developments in the world of energy have unfolded at breakneck speed,” such that fracking, digitally wrought efficiencies, and other advances, combined with reductions in demand, have changed the political stage. For one thing, writes the author, the Arab oil-producing nations have lost some of their hold as the U.S. has emerged as an energy exporter—though, as she adds, that picture is complicated by the fact that the U.S. also imports fossil fuels. Its supremacy as a producer also puts Russia in a leading role, especially in any European scenario. For its part, Europe’s conventional oil production is projected to fall, while shale gas extraction is forbidden in many places, so that net imports will almost certainly rise within the next two decades. O’Sullivan’s projections largely hinge on the fossil fuel economy, and though she does figure renewables into the mix, there are times when she seems to give too little attention to externalities—the effects, say, of that shale extraction on water, forcing competition for resources in other directions. Even so, her argument offers intriguing possibilities. “The new energy abundance,” she writes, “provides grounds for recasting ties between the United States and China,” increasing energy trading while easing the conflict narrative that has been dominant recently, changing it to “one of potential and actual cooperation around energy.” How all this will play out in the current political setting, given the threat of trade and other wars, remains to be seen, but O’Sullivan’s generally optimistic view of “energy realities” merits attention.

A lucid and provocative look at the geopolitics of energy and the shifts and dislocations it is likely to produce.

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5011-0793-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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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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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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