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

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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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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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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