An extensively documented and compelling call for reform, and a direct challenge to the conventional free-market wisdom.

THE PRICE OF CITIZENSHIP

REDEFINING THE AMERICAN WELFARE STATE

Katz (In the Shadow of the Poorhouse, not reviewed) offers a bleak vision of the state of America’s economic health by examining the erosion of welfare benefits in the Information Age.

Through a detailed depiction of the evolution of public and private approaches to relief systems (from colonial days to the present), the text offers an explanation for a profound shift in the American consciousness. Well-researched and thorough, Katz’s account provides a scathing rebuttal of many conventionally held beliefs regarding welfare in the US today. Attacking the problem from every conceivable angle, he discusses ways in which the changing face of urban economics has affected the poor and how these changes reinforce poverty and desperation. He also examines the ways in which the arbitrary separation of welfare benefits into “entitlements” for the poorest of the poor (AFDC, etc.) and “insurance” for the middle class (unemployment compensation, social security, workers compensation, etc.) has undermined popular support for aid for those who need it most. The author goes on to discuss how even recipients of those benefits targeted most obviously to placate the middle class are being stigmatized in the current climate of welfare reform. From probing changes in health care delivery and its impact on the well-being of the nation’s poor to exposing the development of the term “undeserving poor” and the genesis of its current definition, Katz reveals himself to be that rarest of creatures: an academic with a public conscience and agenda.

An extensively documented and compelling call for reform, and a direct challenge to the conventional free-market wisdom.

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-8050-5208-9

Page Count: 454

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2001

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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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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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