Fiery, focused, bold voices address groundbreaking decisions.




A well-curated collection of the most influential cases of the American Civil Liberties Union, published to mark the organization’s 100th anniversary.

Husband-and-wife team Chabon and Waldman (co-editors: Kingdom of Olives and Ash: Writers Confront the Occupation, 2017) present a finely edited almanac of lively, contextually grounded stories that read like the greatest hits of freedom. Written by some of today’s most popular and celebrated authors, these essays serve as history lessons, cautionary tales, and calls to arms. Considered in terms of contemporary cultural values and changes, the contributors explore a variety of issues with an eye on broad efforts of the ACLU to protect the rights of vulnerable populations. For people of color, immigrants, religious minorities, LGBTQ community members, and others whose rights have been threatened or undermined by patterns of discrimination, the collection informs ongoing movements for justice. However, it’s not all praise, as some contributors offer well-reasoned criticisms of ACLU actions. Throughout, the contributors deftly handle the promises and challenges of the courts and their decisions, covering such issues as privacy rights, intellectual freedom, and women’s rights. As each legal case—including Roe v. Wade, Brown v. Board of Education, Gideon v. Wainwright, among many others—is spun through the writers’ perspectives and distinct approaches, the resulting distillation provides insights that are both riveting and refreshingly diverse. This is not solely a book about controversial decisions so much as one that traces the ACLU’s efforts at attending to the importance of the rule of law, the role of the courts, and the significance of legal reform. It’s a timely and cohesive love song for freedom, sung by an impressive roster of contributors, including Neil Gaiman, Jesmyn Ward, George Saunders, Marlon James, Salman Rushdie, Meg Wolitzer, Liyun Li, Elizabeth Strout, Jacqueline Woodson, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Aleksandar Hemon, and Lauren Groff.

Fiery, focused, bold voices address groundbreaking decisions.

Pub Date: Jan. 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5011-9040-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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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...


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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