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ELECTION MELTDOWN

DIRTY TRICKS, DISTRUST, AND THE THREAT TO AMERICAN DEMOCRACY

Required reading for legislators and voters.

A hard-hitting critique of the American election process as timely as it is frightening.

In a slim, cogently argued analysis, legal scholar Hasen (Law and Political Science/Univ. of California, Irvine; The Justice of Contradictions: Anthony Scalia and the Politics of Disruption, 2018, etc.) points to four dangers threatening the voting process in 2020 and beyond: “voter suppression, pockets of electoral incompetence, foreign and domestic dirty tricks,” and “a rising incendiary rhetoric about ‘stolen’ or ‘rigged’ elections.” Each of these problems causes voters to distrust the fairness and accuracy of elections—the basic tenet of democracy—and may provide fuel for Donald Trump in 2020 if he refuses to concede a close election by raising “unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud.” As Michael Cohen remarked in February 2019, “given my experience working for Mr. Trump, I fear that if he loses the election in 2020 that there will never be a peaceful transition of power.” That fear was so great before the 2016 election that the Barack Obama administration, assuming a Hillary Clinton victory, “came up with contingency plans,” calling for an oversight committee of congressional Republicans, former presidents, and former Cabinet-level officials to validate the election result. Hasen looks in depth at Republicans’ efforts to suppress voter registration and notes that as the 2020 election season began, “more states passed new laws aimed at curtailing voter registration drives in the face of high African American turnout.” Addressing the problem of technological disruptions of the voting process and manipulation of public opinion, the author urges members of the current administration to take seriously “cyberthreats to America’s power grid, critical infrastructure, and voting technology, and that they take defensive measures despite being led by a man who has proved himself more than willing to look the other way (at best) regarding Russian involvement in American elections, particularly when that involvement benefits him.” Overall, Hasen calls for “nonpartisan, professionalized election administration” and enhanced civics education about the nation’s vital “multifaceted plural democracy.”

Required reading for legislators and voters.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-30-024819-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

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  • Kirkus Reviews'
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Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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NIGHT

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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