A vital contribution to a discussion that should be at the top of world leaders’ agendas.



A clear argument that the world needs a new approach to refugee policy.

Collier (Economics/St. Antony’s Coll., Oxford; Exodus: How Migration Is Changing Our World, 2013, etc.) and Betts (Forced Migration and International Affairs/Univ. of Oxford; Survival Migration: Failed Governance and the Crisis of Displacement, 2013, etc.) write that the current global refugee catastrophe is on a scale only comparable to such “major moments of international crisis” as the 1971 breakdown of the international monetary system or the 2007-2008 financial crisis. Many of the assertions and cited statistics may shock readers, especially those who are unaware of the contents of annual reports circulated by the United Nations Refugee Agency. Currently, there are more than 65 million refugees and displaced persons worldwide (“the highest proportion of the world’s population ever recorded: one person in every 113”), and the number of refugees doubled over the past 8 years. Collier and Betts demonstrate beyond reasonable objection that the U.N. has become incapable of fulfilling its statutory mandate to provide protection to refugees and find long-term solutions to their plights. Though the dependence on voluntary contributions from member countries is insufficient, the agency is increasingly forced to deal with escalating problems, which is not sustainable. The authors put blame on widespread “violent disorder” and “mass violence” but note that wars—e.g., in Iraq and Syria—are extreme cases of a crisis driven by the 40 to 60 nations whose existences are considered to be fragile. Of the 65 million global displaced persons, at least 20 million are considered to be cross-border refugees. Roughly half of these are living in camps like the infamous Dadaab in Kenya, and the average stay for such camp-bound refugees is increasing. The remaining 45 million are the internally displaced, including 11 million in Syria. Among other elements of autonomy and humanitarianism, the authors vigorously discuss the absolute necessity of jobs to create “a workable system that can sustainably offer sanctuary to the world’s refugees.”

A vital contribution to a discussion that should be at the top of world leaders’ agendas.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-19-065915-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: June 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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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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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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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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