Predictably scary and shocking, but still rises to the level of reference.

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BOILING POINT

HOW POLITICIANS, BIG OIL AND COAL, JOURNALISTS, AND ACTIVISTS HAVE FUELED THE CLIMATE CRISIS--AND WHAT WE CAN DO TO AVERT DISASTER

Revisiting the consensus on global warming (The Heat Is On, 1997), Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Gelbspan finds the US strangely at odds with a vast majority of both scientists and governments.

While other major industrial powers are pondering what to do about climate change, only America seems unsure that there is a crisis in the offing, notes the author, who goes on to explain in valuable detail precisely how Big Energy, as personified by Exxon/Mobile and Peabody Coal, has, with the encouragement and cooperation of the Bush administration, effectively back-burnered the threat. Fingering by name some scientific “skeptics” whom he charges regularly take funding from the greenhouse gas (carbon dioxide) source producers, Gelbspan suggests readers find out what they have published, if anything, in peer-reviewed journals. The implication is that they are not only sell-outs, but laughingstocks in the eyes of mainstream science. Even other international energy giants, such as Royal Dutch Shell and British Petroleum, Gelbspan offers, have acknowledged that human factors contribute to global warming and its effects are already with us. These first-glimpse events seem more disturbing in their range and variety than even environmentalists who invoked the falling sky a decade ago could guess. Papuan and Polynesian populations, for instance, are already being relocated by thousands from Pacific islands that simply will not be viable as sea levels rise, and researchers tie general warming not just to death-dealing heat waves (Europe 2003), but to droughts, crop failures, tornadoes, and other violent weather events. There are some beneficiaries: the lowly mosquito has a substantial increase in temperate habitat, Gelbspan avers, along with more rapid maturation (added breeding cycles) of its parasites, which already deliver malaria and viruses like West Nile to areas where those scourges were previously unknown.

Predictably scary and shocking, but still rises to the level of reference.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-465-02761-X

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Basic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2004

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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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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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