A carefully argued political treatise, but one of many similar books during these contentious political times.

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KEEPING THE REPUBLIC

SAVING AMERICA BY TRUSTING AMERICANS

Indiana’s governor delivers his vision for saving America.

Gov. Daniels, a darling of the Republican Party, proves his stripes as a faithful conservative by setting forth a small-government, pro-business agenda to address the country’s current economic woes. While the author touches briefly on an array of hot-button political issues (health care, national security, foreign policy), “[t]he enemy is real and imminent. It is the debt we have accumulated.” Rather than wage a full-scale rhetorical assault on the Obama administration, Daniels prefers the nuanced sneak attack, painting the president as an anti–private-sector politician with an “extreme agenda of expanding federal domination over the private economy.” Instead of relying on the federal government, Daniels tells Americans they should remain invested in their own futures. On a smaller scale, the governor also takes issue with the nation’s educational curricula—in particular, the high-school civics classroom. “It would be bad enough if today’s students were merely left unaware of the greatness and superiority of the free institutions American has brought to the world,” he writes. “In reality, they are more often taught the converse: that we are a deeply flawed nation.” Yet for the remainder of the book Daniels picks at these very flaws, ostensibly in the hopes of seeking practical solutions. Perhaps the author’s most important contribution stems not from policymaking, but political philosophy. Fully cognizant of the dire economic problems with which the country is faced, Daniels calls upon politicians to seek a temporary truce on social issues until overcoming the financial hurdles. “If America goes broke,” he writes, “suffering will come to gays and straights, men and women, pro-life and pro-choice advocates, and to people of all races”—a politic answer that leaves him poised for a future run at higher office.

A carefully argued political treatise, but one of many similar books during these contentious political times.

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-59523-080-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Sentinel

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2011

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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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