A spirited history of urban unrest that laid the groundwork and inspiration for future activists and reformers.

SET THE NIGHT ON FIRE

L.A. IN THE SIXTIES

A vivid portrait of Los Angeles during a turbulent decade.

MacArthur fellow Davis (Old Gods, New Enigmas: Marx’s Lost Theory, 2018, etc.) and Start Making Sense podcast host Wiener (Emeritus, History/Univ. of California, Irvine; How We Forgot the Cold War: A Historical Journey Across America, 2012, etc.) experienced firsthand the political, cultural, and social upheavals that roiled LA in the 1960s. Davis was the Los Angeles regional organizer for Students for a Democratic Society and a member of the Southern California branch of the Communist Party. Wiener, who had participated in anti-war and civil rights activism from the time he was in high school, arrived in LA in 1969, quickly becoming a reporter for Liberation News Service, which provided to underground and college papers around the country reports about strikes, anti-war protests, and incendiary events such as the efforts of the California regents to fire philosophy professor Angela Davis. In addition to their own recollections, the authors mine abundant archival sources and interviews to create a richly detailed portrait of a city that seethed with rebellious energy. Much of that energy came from civil rights activists, with LA serving as “a major laboratory for the Black Power experiment.” Building on “the template of Black nationalism,” Mexican Americans redefined themselves as Chicanas/os, fashioning their own ideology and identity, as did Asian Americans, who lobbied for ethnic studies programs and, at UCLA, published a monthly newspaper that publicized the Asian American movement. Feminist groups—liberal, radical, and socialist—burgeoned, as well. Because the Los Angeles Times “was firmly and loudly right-wing,” the LA Free Press emerged as the nation’s first and most influential underground paper, disseminating news about racial unrest (such as the Watts uprising of 1965), gay rights (such as the founding, in 1966, of a group calling itself Personal Rights in Defense and Education, or PRIDE), and the repressive actions of the police department, mayor, and the state’s governor, Ronald Reagan.

A spirited history of urban unrest that laid the groundwork and inspiration for future activists and reformers.

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-78478-022-7

Page Count: 800

Publisher: Verso

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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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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