Extremely disturbing, but, for the brave, jolting and necessary reading.

TO KILL A NATION

THE DESTRUCTION OF YUGOSLAVIA

Prominent social critic Parenti (History as Mystery, 1999, etc.) pens a fierce, elegantly constructed elegy not just for the lives sacrificed in the Balkan wars, but for concepts of national sovereignty and constitutionality, which appear to be lost to a corporate-sanctioned new world order.

Parenti dissents from every piece of conventional wisdom about the former Yugoslavia’s breakup, the Kosovo crisis, and the NATO bombing campaign against the Serbian state in purported support of the Kosovar Albanians. Instead, he assembles a scarily persuasive alternate history in which an American-led coalition backed by aggressive financial interests precipitated the civil war and the profoundly destructive air campaign that killed at least 3,000 civilians. He assumes the difficult defense of the Serbs with gusto, questioning the “publicized size, scope, and frequency of Serbian [war] crimes” and prodding readers to reconsider fundamental notions about the Milosevic regime. (One of Parenti’s many effective tangents addresses the issue of why the US supports certain brutal dictatorships, but not others.) His explorations of Croatian, Bosnian Muslim, and Kosovar Albanian violence, quasi-fascism, and mediated falsification of wartime reality are shocking, as are his dissections of the KLA’s organized-crime ties and of the roles played by other European nations, principally Germany, in precipitating the crisis. Nor does the mainstream press, especially the New York Times, escape criticism for consistently biased, compromised reportage. Parenti is keenly attuned to the war’s economic implications, postulating that the real target of American-led aggression was Yugoslavia’s efficient socialist system and that post-bombardment recovery prospects are grim. He writes with a taut cadence that exudes conviction. At times he elides opposing viewpoints, the same sin he ascribes to NATO-controlled media and governmental sources, but taken as a whole his work is passionately convincing. Like Thomas Frank’s recent One Market Under God (p. 1443) and Ken Silverstein’s Private Warriors (p. 947), this book raises serious questions about the rise of militarized free-market privatization.

Extremely disturbing, but, for the brave, jolting and necessary reading.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 1-85984-776-5

Page Count: 238

Publisher: Verso

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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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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