Sage, sensible words by a leader who can now point to how he right he was.

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WHILE AMERICA SLEEPS

A WAKE-UP CALL FOR THE POST-9/11 ERA

Former Senator Feingold shares his progressive foreign-policy vision.

Defeated for reelection by a Republican in 2010, the author served 18 years in the Senate, making his mark most notably with the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Act of 2002 and by challenging the Bush administration on the Iraq War and the Patriot Act. In this straightforward, clear-eyed look at the fallout after 9/11, Feingold revisits the U.S. reaction in the wake of the attacks, which set off an “unfortunate trend” in soured international relations that is only presently being arrested under President Obama. While Feingold graciously allows former President Bush accolades for his initial words of resolve and restraint after 9/11, he grew increasingly alarmed by the hysterical fear gripping Washington, and cast the lone vote against the Patriot Act. He was disturbed by Bush’s 2002 “axis of evil” speech and refused to buy the administration’s justification for war, despite Joe Biden’s extensive hearings and endorsement of it. (Curiously, meeting former President Nixon, his nemesis, helped Feingold come to doubt the reasoning behind the Saddam-bin Laden conspiracy.) In the post-9/11 Risk game, as he calls it, Feingold urged the government not to lose sight of other important strategic spots like Yemen, Indonesia and Somalia, and he traveled widely with Hilary Clinton and others; he first urged the troop withdrawal from Iraq in 2005 and was gratified to see it finally occurring under Obama. He has been a vocal proponent for “restoring the rule of law” to the presidency and of Obama’s health-care legislation, which essentially invited the Tea Partiers to organize his defeat in the anti-incumbent fever of 2010.

Sage, sensible words by a leader who can now point to how he right he was.

Pub Date: Feb. 21, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-95252-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2011

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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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