A lucid but overly general discussion of leadership that lacks practical details.



A physician and researcher focuses on the need and means to create global leaders of moral integrity in this ambitious book.

According to Khan, the world is spiraling into poverty and war and the principal culprit is a failure of global leadership. The crux of this problem is moral in character—without the direction provided by “transcendent principles,” leaders are inclined to “selfishness, cruelty, egoism, and hysteria.” The moral order of the cosmos is guaranteed by a “universal organizing principle,” which one can, as the author does, refer to as God. Khan proposes that moral integrity could be spread through a program that identifies potential leaders in their youth and subjects them to a training regimen. This would require the establishment of a kind of global accreditation agency to compose the standards and oversee their implementation, an Independent Global Leadership Organization. Khan’s discussion is characteristically vague—he doesn’t provide a lot of actionable details regarding the nature of the selection of leaders or their training. In addition, he doesn’t examine the challenges of any test for leadership being globally accepted or enforced given thorny issues like political diversity and sovereignty. Even his understanding of a leader’s essential characteristics is unhelpfully broad—patience, open-mindedness, and compassion are inarguably good traits, but surely leadership requires much more than these attributes. The author is admirably open about his own religious commitments—he’s a practicing Muslim—and tries to articulate a message that could be generally palatable to theists of all stripes. Moreover, he writes in consistently clear prose unencumbered by technical jargon. But his suggestions are not only indeterminate, but also a bit naïve—the creation of moral leaders is not a simple matter of technocratic training. Ultimately, this is a peculiarly apolitical book given that the author’s mission is to improve the messy political world.

A lucid but overly general discussion of leadership that lacks practical details.

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4808-9366-5

Page Count: 126

Publisher: Archway Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2020

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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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This guide to Black culture for White people is accessible but rarely easy.


A former NFL player casts his gimlet eye on American race relations.

In his first book, Acho, an analyst for Fox Sports who grew up in Dallas as the son of Nigerian immigrants, addresses White readers who have sent him questions about Black history and culture. “My childhood,” he writes, “was one big study abroad in white culture—followed by studying abroad in black culture during college and then during my years in the NFL, which I spent on teams with 80-90 percent black players, each of whom had his own experience of being a person of color in America. Now, I’m fluent in both cultures: black and white.” While the author avoids condescending to readers who already acknowledge their White privilege or understand why it’s unacceptable to use the N-word, he’s also attuned to the sensitive nature of the topic. As such, he has created “a place where questions you may have been afraid to ask get answered.” Acho has a deft touch and a historian’s knack for marshaling facts. He packs a lot into his concise narrative, from an incisive historical breakdown of American racial unrest and violence to the ways of cultural appropriation: Your friend respecting and appreciating Black arts and culture? OK. Kim Kardashian showing off her braids and attributing her sense of style to Bo Derek? Not so much. Within larger chapters, the text, which originated with the author’s online video series with the same title, is neatly organized under helpful headings: “Let’s rewind,” “Let’s get uncomfortable,” “Talk it, walk it.” Acho can be funny, but that’s not his goal—nor is he pedaling gotcha zingers or pleas for headlines. The author delivers exactly what he promises in the title, tackling difficult topics with the depth of an engaged cultural thinker and the style of an experienced wordsmith. Throughout, Acho is a friendly guide, seeking to sow understanding even if it means risking just a little discord.

This guide to Black culture for White people is accessible but rarely easy.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-80046-6

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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