A hard-hitting kickoff to the 2016 election campaign.



A call to arms to defend Social Security from sneak attack.

Co-authors Altman (The Battle for Social Security: From FDR's Vision to Bush's Gamble, 2005, etc.) and Kingson (Social Work/Syracuse Univ.; Lessons from Joan: Living and Loving with Cancer, a Husband's Story, 2006, etc.), who both served as staff advisers to the 1982 National Commission on Social Security and were founding board members of the National Academy on Social Insurance, expose the method of guerrilla warfare still employed by conservatives to undermine the social-welfare system. “This is not a time to accept further cuts to our Social Security as 'reasonable compromise,' as little 'tweaks,' that will do no lasting harm,” they write. On the contrary, they believe what is required is an expansion of the social-welfare system to achieve “greater economic security for all of America's working families.” A first step is to counter “the misinformation...so deeply imbedded in the minds of the general public”—e.g., the false claim that Social Security is economically unsustainable and imposes an unacceptable burden on the younger generation. In his cogent foreword, David Cay Johnston (Undivided: The Perils of Our Growing Inequality, 2014, etc.) describes this misinformation and reminds readers that the preamble to the Constitution includes a statement of the need to “promote the general Welfare.” Altman and Kingson provide a historical overview of social legislation since the passage of the original Social Security Act in 1935, give a detailed explanation about why the Social Security trust fund is solvent and will remain so, and explain why conservatives have been unable to derail the system due to broad-based popular support. Even Ronald Reagan, the champion of reducing the role of government, recognized that Social Security (dubbed by House Speaker Tip O'Neill as “the third rail of politics”) was unopposable.

A hard-hitting kickoff to the 2016 election campaign.

Pub Date: Jan. 21, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62097-037-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: The New Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

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However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.


Maya Angelou is a natural writer with an inordinate sense of life and she has written an exceptional autobiographical narrative which retrieves her first sixteen years from "the general darkness just beyond the great blinkers of childhood."

Her story is told in scenes, ineluctably moving scenes, from the time when she and her brother were sent by her fancy living parents to Stamps, Arkansas, and a grandmother who had the local Store. Displaced they were and "If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat." But alternating with all the pain and terror (her rape at the age of eight when in St. Louis With her mother) and humiliation (a brief spell in the kitchen of a white woman who refused to remember her name) and fear (of a lynching—and the time they buried afflicted Uncle Willie under a blanket of vegetables) as well as all the unanswered and unanswerable questions, there are affirmative memories and moments: her charming brother Bailey; her own "unshakable God"; a revival meeting in a tent; her 8th grade graduation; and at the end, when she's sixteen, the birth of a baby. Times When as she says "It seemed that the peace of a day's ending was an assurance that the covenant God made with children, Negroes and the crippled was still in effect."

However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1969

ISBN: 0375507892

Page Count: 235

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1969

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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.


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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