The author’s argument is likely to find support, but absent any discussion of how to fund and implement education and...

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BLACKWARDS

HOW BLACK LEADERSHIP IS RETURNING AMERICA TO THE DAYS OF SEPARATE BUT EQUAL

A senior advisor to Congress and the White House offers some outspoken advice on how to oppose racism in a post-racial society.

Christie (Acting White: The Curious History of a Racial Slur, 2010, etc.) believes that “education is the civil rights issue for the twenty first century.” The author advocates a path forward that involves ending affirmative action based on racial quotas, re-examining the functions of the NAACP, the Congressional Black Caucus and other black organizations, and “refraining from hurling allegations of racism against political opponents.” The author first appeals to the legacies of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King and historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr., and the tradition of Brown v. Board of Education. For him, their legacies represent their successes, and the “march for equality is over in most respects.” The author argues that to continue to fight for improvements for minorities through affirmative action and other means (e.g., promoting multiculturalism) is to express a particular interest against the general welfare and is therefore regressive. For Christie, such advocacy is also racist, so many black organizations, including the Black Caucus, “are racist and should be disbanded.” In his view, the Obama administration has been a main source of racial polarization. He also asserts that the problems facing black communities—e.g., unemployment, school quality, poverty, broken households—are no longer problems of deprivation of rights or lack of equal protections, and thus do not need addressing via the methods of the past.

The author’s argument is likely to find support, but absent any discussion of how to fund and implement education and employment policies, it lacks utility.

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-312-59147-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: June 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2012

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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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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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