Though accessible to nonspecialist readers, primarily of interest to those already well versed in constitutional law and...



Legal scholars address the complex matter of the 2000 presidential election, lending weight to those who see its outcome as a judicial coup.

For those who have tried to put it out of their minds, Dworkin (Law/NYU and Philosophy/ University College, London; Sovereign Virtue, 2000) offers a helpful summary of that misbegotten election, held on November 7: a close call of votes in Florida and allegations of vote fraud and misleadingly constructed ballots led candidate Al Gore to follow the provisions of Florida law and demand a manual recount in four counties; Florida secretary of state and George W. Bush campaign official Katherine Harris refused to extend the deadline when the recount was not completed on time; suits and countersuits followed; on December 12, the US Supreme Court voted to end the recount, thereby awarding the election to Bush. In a spry and subtle argument, conservative jurist and legal scholar Richard Posner offers a worst-case analysis of what might have happened had the Court not decided so: in the face of an apparently unbreakable deadlock (inasmuch as candidate Bush’s brother, the governor of Florida, might not have certified a Gore victory after a recount), the US Congress would have had to declare an acting president, probably Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers; absent the Court’s “pragmatic adjudication,” the country would thereupon have been plunged into a constitutional crisis. Such a crisis, Dworkin retorts, would not necessarily be a bad thing, and in any event, the Court’s decision was a conservative fiat that shamed the nation more than any back-and-forth in courts and Congress would have. Laurence Tribe, Lani Guinier, Richard Pildes, Nelson Polsby, and Cass Sunstein examine other aspects of the Court’s decision, while historian Arthur Schlesinger sketches out a modification of the present winner-take-all Electoral College system so that the winner of the popular vote—in this instance Gore—is henceforth more likely to earn the electoral vote as well.

Though accessible to nonspecialist readers, primarily of interest to those already well versed in constitutional law and electoral procedure.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2002

ISBN: 1-56584-737-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: The New Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2002

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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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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A clear and candid contribution to an essential conversation.


Straight talk to blacks and whites about the realities of racism.

In her feisty debut book, Oluo, essayist, blogger, and editor at large at the Establishment magazine, writes from the perspective of a black, queer, middle-class, college-educated woman living in a “white supremacist country.” The daughter of a white single mother, brought up in largely white Seattle, she sees race as “one of the most defining forces” in her life. Throughout the book, Oluo responds to questions that she has often been asked, and others that she wishes were asked, about racism “in our workplace, our government, our homes, and ourselves.” “Is it really about race?” she is asked by whites who insist that class is a greater source of oppression. “Is police brutality really about race?” “What is cultural appropriation?” and “What is the model minority myth?” Her sharp, no-nonsense answers include talking points for both blacks and whites. She explains, for example, “when somebody asks you to ‘check your privilege’ they are asking you to pause and consider how the advantages you’ve had in life are contributing to your opinions and actions, and how the lack of disadvantages in certain areas is keeping you from fully understanding the struggles others are facing.” She unpacks the complicated term “intersectionality”: the idea that social justice must consider “a myriad of identities—our gender, class, race, sexuality, and so much more—that inform our experiences in life.” She asks whites to realize that when people of color talk about systemic racism, “they are opening up all of that pain and fear and anger to you” and are asking that they be heard. After devoting most of the book to talking, Oluo finishes with a chapter on action and its urgency. Action includes pressing for reform in schools, unions, and local governments; boycotting businesses that exploit people of color; contributing money to social justice organizations; and, most of all, voting for candidates who make “diversity, inclusion and racial justice a priority.”

A clear and candid contribution to an essential conversation.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-58005-677-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Seal Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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