A unique perspective on how war policy was formed by two very different presidents.

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WAR OF NECESSITY, WAR OF CHOICE

A MEMOIR OF TWO IRAQ WARS

A former member of both Bush administrations compares the two Iraq wars.

Now the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, Haass (The Opportunity: America’s Moment to Alter History’s Course, 2005, etc.) is one of a very select group—which includes Colin Powell, Dick Cheney, Bob Gates and Paul Wolfowitz—that was involved in making high-level decisions in both major Iraq conflicts. Haass makes the case that the 1991 war, spurred by Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait, was a necessary and well-planned operation. The current Iraq conflict, he says, was a poorly executed war of choice. Haass backs up his assertions with firsthand knowledge. He was in the room when many of the initial plans were hashed out, for example, and he was standing next to Bush I when he famously said, “This will not stand, this aggression against Kuwait.” Bush I’s foreign policy was of a more practical, “realist” bent, the author argues, and its aims during the first conflict were concerned with reestablishing the status quo in the region. Bush II and his circle, on the other hand, had much more ambitious, difficult and dangerous goals: They wanted to truly transform the Middle East, and do it in one bold stroke. Haass admires then–Secretary of State Powell for his caution during the 2003 rush to war, but it’s clear that Powell’s (and Haass’s) push for a more diplomatic approach with Iraq had few advocates in Bush II’s inner circle. The result, he argues, was slipshod war planning. Haass also astutely notes the two presidents’ differing management styles. While Bush I welcomed rigorous and inclusive policy debate, Bush II was far less careful and more informal, which, Haass argues, led to disastrous postwar oversight in Iraq.

A unique perspective on how war policy was formed by two very different presidents.

Pub Date: May 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4165-4902-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2009

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

NIGHT

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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