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

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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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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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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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