An excellent discussion of election finance reform for policymakers and political watchers—though the audience may not...

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BUYING THE VOTE

A HISTORY OF CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM

Independent legal scholar Mutch (Campaigns, Congress and Courts: The Making of Federal Campaign Finance Law, 1988) contends that the Citizens United (2010) Supreme Court ruling has reversed more than 100 years of electoral reform and overthrown long-accepted legal definitions of equality, democracy and free speech.

The author contributes a broad perspective to the heated controversy provoked by the current Supreme Court and its decision that corporations can use their financial power to influence electoral outcomes—putting corporations on par with individual people. Mutch identifies two cycles of election finance reform: the first beginning around the 1904 election of Theodore Roosevelt and the second, with the 1974 resignation of President Richard Nixon. Both, he shows, were driven by outrage over the role of money in politics. In the early 20th century, many feared the corrosive effects of large corporate financial contributions as undermining the notions of equality and democracy. Mutch quotes New Hampshire Sen. William Chandler, one of the founders of the Republican Party and co-sponsor of federal legislation to bring financial transparency to the electoral process: “A republic is supposed to be individual government….But when corporations can furnish money to carry elections from corporate treasuries individualism in government is gone.” Over the decades, the fears have prompted only partially successful legislative efforts. After Nixon, two 1970s cases—Buckley v. Valeo and First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti—established money as a protected equivalent of human speech and permitted direct corporate funding of elections. “[T]racking changes in where campaign funds actually come from,” writes Mutch, “reveals that…today's system differs only in degree from the Gilded Age system the first reformers tried to uproot.”

An excellent discussion of election finance reform for policymakers and political watchers—though the audience may not include many general readers.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-19-934000-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2014

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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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