A useful survey for students of energy, geopolitics and realpolitik.

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RISING POWERS, SHRINKING PLANET

THE NEW GEOPOLITICS OF ENERGY

A cheerless prognostication of a future driven by energy-acquisition battles that will prove especially gloomy for those who think that the price of gas is already too high.

It has long been observed that the wars of the 21st century will be about such things as oil and water. The Nation defense analyst and national-security specialist Klare (Blood and Oil: The Dangers and Consequences of America’s Growing Dependency on Imported Oil, 2004, etc.) is well positioned to write about such things. At the outset, he establishes a matter-of-fact tone that assumes the worst, at least if you’re a neocon: The United States was supposed to be the world’s one superpower after the Cold War ended, but at the moment Russia and China are rising rapidly, the former because of its vast energy holdings and potential, the latter because it has so much American money as a result of a staggering trade imbalance. The United States is thus not among the “nations that wield disproportionate power in the international system by virtue of their superior energy reserves,” even if the continued occupation of Iraq may one day give an advantage to U.S. energy companies. Energy is its own politics: For all the sword-waving and name-calling, the Venezuela of Hugo Chávez still supplies ten percent of America’s imported oil; the Darfur tragedy is ongoing precisely because Sudan has energy reserves and enjoys the diplomatic patronage of its chief customer for oil, China; the dictatorship of Kazakhstan is golden because it has so much oil, with Dick Cheney praising its government for “impressive political development” despite having rigged the last few elections and forbidden opposition. Klare urges several policy changes at the national and international level, including not just the expected call for increased efficiencies and the development of renewable energy, but also the formulation of new consortia: an alliance of Japan and China for the peaceful development of gas fields in the South China Sea.

A useful survey for students of energy, geopolitics and realpolitik.

Pub Date: March 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-8050-8064-3

Page Count: 306

Publisher: Metropolitan/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2008

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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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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

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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