An informed, important exposé of the nation’s institutionalized racism that would have been even more reader-friendly with...

THE COLOR OF LAW

A FORGOTTEN HISTORY OF HOW OUR GOVERNMENT SEGREGATED AMERICA

How government policies have perpetuated the caste system of slavery.

Rothstein (Grading Education: Getting Accountability Right, 2008, etc.), a research associate at the Economic Policy Institute and a fellow at the Thurgood Marshall Institute of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, mounts a hard-hitting argument condemning federal, state, and local governments for devising laws that enforce segregation. Underserved, blighted African-American communities, he argues persuasively, are not the result only of personal prejudice or market forces but of unconstitutional “racially explicit government policies to segregate our metropolitan areas.” The author cites cases and decisions regarding public housing, racial zoning, mortgage lending, the enforcement of housing covenants, fearmongering to incite white flight, planning for highways and roads, IRS tax-exemption status for institutions that promote segregation, state-sanctioned violence, and the effects of segregation on schools and income disparity. Although he sometimes refers to particular individuals, his main focus is on law and public policy affecting neighborhoods. In 1949, for example, when a proposed integration amendment to a public housing law threatened to be defeated by Southern Democrats, liberals caved, voting for a program that stipulated segregation rather than giving up the possibility of much-needed public housing. State supreme courts consistently upheld restrictive real estate covenants that forbade sales of homes to African-Americans, claiming that such “private agreements” did not violate the Constitution. Even after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that restrictive covenants did, indeed, violate the 14th Amendment, the Federal Housing Administration continued to deny mortgage insurance to homes in integrated neighborhoods. After World War II, the GI Bill denied African-Americans mortgage subsidies and opportunities for education and training that were available to whites. Rothstein considers the insidious effects of housing segregation on economic mobility, infrastructure, and politics. “Racial polarization,” he asserts, bolsters leaders who appeal to white voters’ “sense of racial entitlement” and who foster intolerance.

An informed, important exposé of the nation’s institutionalized racism that would have been even more reader-friendly with the inclusion of more individual case histories.

Pub Date: May 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-63149-285-3

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Liveright/Norton

Review Posted Online: Feb. 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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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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Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

TOMBSTONE

THE EARP BROTHERS, DOC HOLLIDAY, AND THE VENDETTA RIDE FROM HELL

Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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