Grist for a graduate seminar, but a slow grind for everyone else.

READ REVIEW

WHAT IF LATIN AMERICA RULED THE WORLD?

HOW THE SOUTH WILL TAKE THE NORTH THROUGH THE 21ST CENTURY

An expert in the region makes the case for the rise of Latin America.

“We are gold-eaters,” said Hernán Cortés to Moctezuma’s priests. It turned out that the conquistadores and their imperial successors were eaters of all Latin America’s riches, including silver, fruit, rubber, cacao, copper, sugar, lumber, oil and more. In the best passages, Guardiola-Rivera (International Law and International Affairs, Birkbeck College, Univ. of London; Being Against the World: Rebellion and Constitution, 2008) captures the greed of the conquerors, how their lust for gold stimulated world capitalism at its inception and how their drive for power choked off the enslaved Amerindians’ dream of a life centered on the collective welfare. That dream, he argues, is set for revival. With America’s political identity transformed as it becomes primarily Latino by 2040, with formerly subjugated nations emerging from the nightmare of colonial exploitation and countries like Brazil taking its place on the world stage and with the challenge of climate change and the global financial meltdown forcing reconsideration of political, social and economic models, the world will look to Latin America for instruction. The continent’s cultural lessons emerge from a tradition of rich social relations, environmental sensitivity, legal racial equality, antimilitarism and common access to and ownership of life’s essentials. Relying on archival documents and his own travels and interviews with government ministers, journalists and activists, Guardiola-Rivera assembles a richly allusive, if idiosyncratic history of the European conquest and the continent’s subsequent struggle against dependency. He easily mixes history’s familiars—e.g., Atahualpa, Columbus, Balboa, Bolívar, Murrieta, Guevara—with tales of lesser knowns like the adventurer William Walker and the entrepreneur Charles Flint, who fomented and profited from private wars against sovereign nations. The author manages far less successfully to persuade us that Latin America will assume such a prominent global leadership role. In a narrative marred by professor-speak, wordiness, leftist cliché and assertions masquerading as argument, the effect is ultimately wearying rather than convincing.

Grist for a graduate seminar, but a slow grind for everyone else.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-60819-272-4

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2010

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

WHY WE'RE POLARIZED

A sharp explanation of how American politics has become so discordant.

Journalist Klein, co-founder of Vox, formerly of the Washington Post, MSNBC, and Bloomberg, reminds readers that political commentators in the 1950s and ’60s denounced Republicans and Democrats as “tweedledum and tweedledee.” With liberals and conservatives in both parties, they complained, voters lacked a true choice. The author suspects that race played a role, and he capably shows us why and how. For a century after the Civil War, former Confederate states, obsessed with keeping blacks powerless, elected a congressional bloc that “kept the Democratic party less liberal than it otherwise would’ve been, the Republican Party congressionally weaker than it otherwise would’ve been, and stopped the parties from sorting themselves around the deepest political cleavage of the age.” Following the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, many white Southern Democrats became Republicans, and the parties turned consistently liberal and conservative. Given a “true choice,” Klein maintains, voters discarded ideology in favor of “identity politics.” Americans, like all humans, cherish their “tribe” and distrust outsiders. Identity was once a preoccupation of minorities, but it has recently attracted white activists and poisoned the national discourse. The author deplores the decline of mass media (network TV, daily newspapers), which could not offend a large audience, and the rise of niche media and internet sites, which tell a small audience only what they want to hear. American observers often joke about European nations that have many parties who vote in lock step. In fact, such parties cooperate to pass legislation. America is the sole system with only two parties, both of which are convinced that the other is not only incompetent (a traditional accusation), but a danger to the nation. So far, calls for drastic action to prevent the apocalypse are confined to social media, fringe activists, and the rhetoric of Trump supporters. Fortunately—according to Klein—Trump is lazy, but future presidents may be more savvy. The author does not conclude this deeply insightful, if dispiriting, analysis by proposing a solution.

A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4767-0032-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2019

  • New York Times Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more