Liberals may rightly dismiss this sprawling, often rambling book as nativist claptrap. Readers willing to excuse the nods to...

SUICIDE OF A SUPERPOWER

WILL AMERICA SURVIVE TO 2025?

Buchanan (Churchill, Hitler, and "The Unnecessary War": How Britain Lost Its Empire and the West Lost the World, 2009, etc.) mourns the passing of the America of his youth.

The author laments the fading of the Christian religion from American life because he sees it as an indispensable underpinning of our common culture. He notes the social ramifications of the collapse of the family—birthrates below replacement levels, skyrocketing illegitimacy rates—as a result of which whites in American will become a minority by 2042 and entire nations in Europe and Asia are headed for extinction. He fears the nation has abandoned its historic commitment to liberty and equality of opportunity to pursue a chimerical utopia of diversity and equality of result. In short, "[w]e are trying to create a nation that has never before existed, of all the races, tribes, cultures and creeds of Earth, of which all are equal. In pursuit of the perfect society of our dreams we are killing the country we inherited—the best and greatest on earth.” Despite the gloomy title, Buchanan does not really see America disappearing by 2025. He does see culture wars without end and a continuing self-segregation of Americans by ethnic group. While he offers some policy recommendations of uneven quality, many of the trends he deplores—the diminishing influence of Christianity, for example, and the vanishing fertile nuclear family—are prevalent throughout Western culture and all but immune to government influence.

Liberals may rightly dismiss this sprawling, often rambling book as nativist claptrap. Readers willing to excuse the nods to predictable right-wing shibboleths and bogeymen will find it a troubling analysis of how America has changed for the worse in the last half century, and how difficult it will be to pull it back from the loss of freedom and prosperity Buchanan sees not far ahead.

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-312-57997-5

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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

I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS

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 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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