Provocative and lucid: an owner’s manual for empire builders, complete with warnings of what can go wrong.

THE CASE FOR GOLIATH

HOW AMERICA ACTS AS THE WORLD’S GOVERNMENT IN THE 21ST CENTURY

A curious empire, this: Unwilling though it may be, the U.S. is not just an imperial power but also the de facto government over much of the planet.

And it is unwilling, writes foreign-policy specialist Mandelbaum (American Foreign Policy/Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies), so much so that come the looming crisis of “unfunded mandates” and retiring baby boomers, which “will compel either a very steep rise in the taxes younger Americans pay or a sharp reduction in the benefits older Americans receive,” the nation’s first impulse may be toward isolationism. That would be a dangerous move, Mandelbaum argues; we provide governmental services (and a big army’s worth of protection) to the international system and concomitantly engage in unilateral politics “by default as well as by choice,” and in the vacuum that would follow our withdrawal, “the consequences of less governance are not likely to be pleasant.” Running the world without going broke—especially when we’re not seizing resources in the way of most previous empires—is a challenge, but one that we seem to be stuck with. Adds Mandelbaum, a more difficult challenge may be taking the leadership role in what he considers the 21st-century exigency supreme, namely the long-term transition from a global oil economy to something more sustainable—and, he argues, current patterns of U.S. oil consumption constitute a real threat to global security, odd behavior for the global policeman. The challenge becomes especially difficult because Americans dislike paying taxes—and the transition will certainly be costly—and because they “also bridle at accepting limits of almost any kind,” including, it seems, the idea that running the world may be overreaching a tad. Yet, thankfully, by Mandelbaum’s account we’re helped along by the “qualified global consensus” in favor of peace, democracy and free markets, the goods Goliath delivers to its friends.

Provocative and lucid: an owner’s manual for empire builders, complete with warnings of what can go wrong.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2006

ISBN: 1-58648-360-9

Page Count: 296

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2005

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However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS

Maya Angelou is a natural writer with an inordinate sense of life and she has written an exceptional autobiographical narrative which retrieves her first sixteen years from "the general darkness just beyond the great blinkers of childhood."

Her story is told in scenes, ineluctably moving scenes, from the time when she and her brother were sent by her fancy living parents to Stamps, Arkansas, and a grandmother who had the local Store. Displaced they were and "If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat." But alternating with all the pain and terror (her rape at the age of eight when in St. Louis With her mother) and humiliation (a brief spell in the kitchen of a white woman who refused to remember her name) and fear (of a lynching—and the time they buried afflicted Uncle Willie under a blanket of vegetables) as well as all the unanswered and unanswerable questions, there are affirmative memories and moments: her charming brother Bailey; her own "unshakable God"; a revival meeting in a tent; her 8th grade graduation; and at the end, when she's sixteen, the birth of a baby. Times When as she says "It seemed that the peace of a day's ending was an assurance that the covenant God made with children, Negroes and the crippled was still in effect."

However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1969

ISBN: 0375507892

Page Count: 235

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1969

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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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