A major work of social research.

BOWLING ALONE

THE COLLAPSE AND REVIVAL OF AMERICAN COMMUNITY

A longer and much improved version of Putnam’s controversial 1995 Journal of Democracy article of the same name, this is an important work that is likely to be the center of much debate.

Books of sociological insight as readable and significant as David Reisman’s Lonely Crowd and C. Wright Mills’s Power Elite come along seldom. Putnam’s work belongs in their company. This is partly because Putnam (Making Democracy Work, not reviewed) avoids the language of academic sociology and writes prose that most readers will find appealing. But, more importantly, Putnam’s ideas have a weight and carry implications that will resonate with scholars and laymen alike. Putnam is concerned with “social capital” (i.e., the institutions, practices, behavior, and attitudes that create and sustain human communities). The evidence that he has amassed—from surveys of bowling leagues and book groups to data on religious and civic participation—shows without doubt that American social capital has recently fallen far, and that the bonds connecting Americans to one another have eroded sharply in the last half-century. For all the book’s likely impact, however, Putnam is stronger at discovering reality than explaining it. He doesn’t tell us why he and other social thinkers believe that being connected is better than going it alone. He also fails to explore the possibility that the causes of social disconnectedness lie as much in changing personal cultural attitudes (the subject of social psychology) as in external practices and institutions (the stuff of sociology). And Putnam’s inspiring and brave call for renewed civic inventiveness, while appealing, can be no substitute for solid ideas as to what social policies should be enacted and what individuals might do to recreate social capital. Nevertheless, all those who were previously skeptical of Putnam’s claims will now have to confront the overwhelming force of this exhaustive and carefully argued study.

A major work of social research.

Pub Date: June 7, 2000

ISBN: 0-684-83283-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2000

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 10

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2019

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

more