The welter of unfamiliar names of places, organizations and people makes for slow reading (maps and a cast of characters...

CONSUMING THE CONGO

WAR AND CONFLICT MINERALS IN THE WORLD'S DEADLIEST PLACE

Once again, a journalist familiar with African politics, economics and culture tells a shocking story of widespread corruption, greed and bloody violence, this time in a region rich in tin and coltan, minerals used in the manufacture electronic devices.

As Africa Editor for the Institute for War & Peace Reporting at The Hague, Eichstaedt (Pirate State: Inside Terrorism at Sea, 2010; etc.) traveled around the eastern Congo giving workshops to train local journalists and talking to militia leaders, former child soldiers, businessmen, aid workers and victims. A two-chapter side journey into neighboring Sudan, which seems rather out-of-place here, demonstrates that ethnic rivalries and fighting over a country’s resources is not unique to the Congo. However, the eastern Congo has become “the rape capital of the world”—and, with more than five million dead in the last decade, the site of “the deadliest human catastrophe since World War II.” Eichstaedt’s reporting reveals in grim detail how rival ethnic militias and the national Congolese army fight for control over the region’s rich mines, how villagers are routinely slain with guns or machetes or by being burned alive, how pick-and-shovel miners are heavily taxed by unpaid soldiers and how rape has become a tactic of war. In their own words, his interviewees often provide unrealistic solutions to their predicament or show a calm acceptance of the chaos and violence around them. The answer, writes the author, is not simply a ban on “conflict minerals” as was recently instituted by the United States, or peace-keeping efforts by the United Nations; it must come from the Congolese people demanding responsible government. Eichstaedt does not offer much hope that it will happen soon.

The welter of unfamiliar names of places, organizations and people makes for slow reading (maps and a cast of characters would have helped), but the main stumbling block for many will be the sheer horror and hopelessness of it all.

Pub Date: July 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-56976-310-0

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Lawrence Hill Books/Chicago Review

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2011

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A clear and candid contribution to an essential conversation.

SO YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT RACE

Straight talk to blacks and whites about the realities of racism.

In her feisty debut book, Oluo, essayist, blogger, and editor at large at the Establishment magazine, writes from the perspective of a black, queer, middle-class, college-educated woman living in a “white supremacist country.” The daughter of a white single mother, brought up in largely white Seattle, she sees race as “one of the most defining forces” in her life. Throughout the book, Oluo responds to questions that she has often been asked, and others that she wishes were asked, about racism “in our workplace, our government, our homes, and ourselves.” “Is it really about race?” she is asked by whites who insist that class is a greater source of oppression. “Is police brutality really about race?” “What is cultural appropriation?” and “What is the model minority myth?” Her sharp, no-nonsense answers include talking points for both blacks and whites. She explains, for example, “when somebody asks you to ‘check your privilege’ they are asking you to pause and consider how the advantages you’ve had in life are contributing to your opinions and actions, and how the lack of disadvantages in certain areas is keeping you from fully understanding the struggles others are facing.” She unpacks the complicated term “intersectionality”: the idea that social justice must consider “a myriad of identities—our gender, class, race, sexuality, and so much more—that inform our experiences in life.” She asks whites to realize that when people of color talk about systemic racism, “they are opening up all of that pain and fear and anger to you” and are asking that they be heard. After devoting most of the book to talking, Oluo finishes with a chapter on action and its urgency. Action includes pressing for reform in schools, unions, and local governments; boycotting businesses that exploit people of color; contributing money to social justice organizations; and, most of all, voting for candidates who make “diversity, inclusion and racial justice a priority.”

A clear and candid contribution to an essential conversation.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-58005-677-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Seal Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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