Fans of Savage’s radio program should stick to the genuine article; opponents of President Obama should turn to someone...



One of talk radio’s most inflammatory voices fires a damp squib at the president, the liberal media and society in general.

Renowned for exploding into fits of vulgar profanity at the slightest provocation, Savage (Trickle Up Poverty: Stopping Obama's Attack on Our Borders, Economy, and Security, 2010, etc.) has long inspired theories that his rabidly conservative posturing is an elaborate put-on. Whether or not his radio persona is a calculated ruse, it is clear that his books are an afterthought, a sideshow with no other aim than generating profit. To say that Trickle Down Tyranny was phoned in would be too generous to a man who has made a fortune by shouting apoplectically. Most of the book reads like a high school intern combed through a year of his transcripts and deliberately selected the most soporific snippets, stitching them together at random into a manuscript-length document. Equally sure that he’s sharing secret knowledge that no one else has the courage or wherewithal to state and that everything he says is just common sense, Savage provides little substantiation for his assertions. He delves deeply into arcane conspiracy theories involving the Trilateral Commission, George Soros and the Weather Underground. The author vaguely sorts his fiery statements (“The Occupy Wall Street demonstrators have one important characteristic in common with Barack Obama and Adolf Hitler: They’re blatantly anti-Semitic”) and rhetorical questions (“Is Holder going to pardon the Gitmo terrorists…and then release them with compensation because they were freedom fighters…? Is this part of Obama’s overall plan to grant amnesty to illegal aliens in order to get reelected?”) into sections dealing with finance, foreign policy, energy and so on, but no other organization or structure is in evidence.

Fans of Savage’s radio program should stick to the genuine article; opponents of President Obama should turn to someone whose sympathies are not so mercenary and self-serving.

Pub Date: April 3, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-208397-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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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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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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