A useful historical document on the seemingly evergreen topic of the Nixon White House.




Journalist Locker (Nixon’s Gamble: How a President’s Own Secret Government Destroyed His Administration, 2015) continues to unravel White House intrigue during Richard M. Nixon’s administration by focusing on the outsized persona of Alexander Haig (1924-2010).

During his career, Haig combined his high-ranking military status with his role as Nixon’s White House chief of staff to place his imprint on U.S. foreign and domestic policy initiatives. The author focuses less on those initiatives than on Haig’s devious roles within the corrupt Nixon presidency. After Haig realized the extent of the corruption, he pretended to serve as Nixon’s confidant while actually maneuvering to drive him from the presidency. However, Locker rarely ascribes noble motives to Haig, suggesting instead that his vanity drove him to believe that he could direct the fate of the nation better than any elected politician. Haig published his own version of events in a 1992 memoir, Inner Circles: How America Changed the World, a book that Locker claims is filled with exaggerations and outright falsehoods. After presenting a brief biography of Haig, Locker chronicles the unraveling of the Nixon presidency in month-by-month chapters beginning in May 1973 and ending in August 1974. Locker’s account is especially revelatory when he moves away from the convoluted scandals of Watergate and explains how Haig maneuvered to place Gerald Ford as Nixon’s successor. That maneuvering required the jettisoning of initial vice president Spiro Agnew, whose corrupt years as Maryland’s governor caught up with him. Ford replaced Agnew, at which juncture Haig felt comfortable accelerating the timetable for Nixon’s departure. When the author delves further into Watergate, he provides copious details about dozens of already well-known characters. In many instances, the author criticizes the work of Bob Woodward and his mostly hidden source relationship with Haig. Though the chronological structure of the narrative leads to repetition and sometimes difficult-to-digest detail, Locker’s reconsideration of the Nixon administration offers enough fresh insight to make it worthwhile.

A useful historical document on the seemingly evergreen topic of the Nixon White House.

Pub Date: May 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-64012-035-8

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Potomac Books

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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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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A clear and candid contribution to an essential conversation.


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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