Provocative reading for students of geopolitical and economic trends looking for a glimpse at the new world to come.

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THE NEW SILK ROADS

THE PRESENT AND FUTURE OF THE WORLD

The world is undergoing a geopolitical realignment—and the West isn’t quite ready for the consequences.

Donald Trump may be preaching a near-isolationist line in foreign policy, but in 2007, he was busily trademarking his name across the nations of Central Asia, Iran among them, “with the intention of producing name-brand vodka,” to say nothing of hotels and casinos. His vehicle, the Silk Road Group, “has subsequently become the focus of considerable media scrutiny,” writes Frankopan (Global History/Oxford Univ.; The Silk Roads: A New History of the World, 2016, etc.) in this engaging survey. If the intensity of American interest in some of those nations has lessened, other countries are paying attention—including, notably, China. Remarks one government official, “we Chinese often say that if you want to get rich, build roads first.” Indeed, China has been building new highways and railway lines throughout the country and beyond its borders, forging direct links with the lucrative markets of Europe and the rich resource-producing nations of Africa. In the latter, Djibouti makes an interesting case in point for Frankopan. Strategically located on the Horn of Africa, it is a natural terminus for highways that might one day radiate across the continent, and it is awash with foreigners: The U.S. has a military base there, but China is building one, too, while France and even Japan have troops there. Meanwhile, not to be left out of the enterprise, Russia has been working in neighboring Somaliland to establish a military presence and is now set on “helping the breakaway republic establish its independence from Somalia and be internationally recognised as a sovereign state.” The course of realignment seems clear and inevitable, and “trying to slow down or stop that change is an illusion,” Frankopan urges. Ignoring it doesn’t help, either….

Provocative reading for students of geopolitical and economic trends looking for a glimpse at the new world to come.

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-65640-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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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

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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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