A well-reasoned case for not holding one’s tongue in the presence of injustice.

THE CASE FOR RAGE

WHY ANGER IS ESSENTIAL TO ANTI-RACIST STRUGGLE

A philosophical manifesto defending anger as an effective instrument of protest against racism and oppression.

“I do not remember my first kiss. I do not remember the first book I ever read. I do remember the first time I was angry. And it was at racism.” So writes philosophy professor Cherry, recounting the day a classmate deployed the N-word against her for the first time. Her anger has not abated in the years since, even as manifestations of White supremacy proliferate. But what is one to do with that anger, even as well-meaning allies counsel people of color to respond with polite, calm counterargument? “Anger can be a force for good on the battlefield for justice,” writes the author. “We must remember this in the face of urges to abolish it altogether.” While one philosopher with whom she takes particular issue, Martha Nussbaum, calls anger “a bad strategy and a fatally flawed response,” Cherry unpacks Martin Luther King Jr.’s celebrated “Letter From Birmingham Jail” as a foundational document in what she calls “Lordean rage,” after the iconic poet and activist Audre Lorde. This Lordean rage ranks favorably in a typology of anger that she constructs, such as “wipe rage,” the wrath of the Charlottesville White supremacist marchers and their targeting of non-White and non-Christian others. Such rage, as well as the rage of narcissism, is the fevered, useless tool of the enemy, whereas “Lordean rage is a kind that is well suited to maintain itself just as it is, without needing to get out of the way so that ‘better’ emotions can get to work.” Although her argument is often repetitive, Cherry effectively shows that anger can be a positive force in organizing resistance and keeping the pressure on perpetrators of racism, sexism, and other societal ills.

A well-reasoned case for not holding one’s tongue in the presence of injustice.

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-19-755734-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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