A reasonable if anodyne analysis written in clumsy academic jargon.




A scholarly dissertation examines moral misconduct in government contracting.

According to debut author Haynes, in the last decade, the U.S. government’s reliance on outside contractors has appreciably increased, and so have the reported incidents of ethical wrongdoing. The stakes are extremely high: The illicit rewarding of contracts not only squanders hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer funds, but also compromises national security and diminishes the public’s trust in government. And this problem persists despite a proliferation of agencies like the Office of the Inspector General, designed to inspire accountability, and sets of rules like the Federal Acquisition Regulation, intended to provide clarity about moral expectations. In order to further understand the problem, the author interviewed 21 midlevel government contracting managers, centering the discussions around a guiding question: “What knowledge do government contracting managers need to regulate unethical behaviors of government contracting employees when administering contracts?” Haynes articulates the study’s parameters with painstaking precision and provides an excellent synopsis of its conceptual framework. On the basis of the qualitative analysis, she discovers that managers generally believe there’s a need for continued ethical training, a more transparent organizational philosophy, and considerable significance assigned to the value of trust. She concludes the book with her own set of recommendations: dissemination of rules and quarterly retraining; the publication of statistics regarding the penalties imposed upon those caught breaking the rules; and a clarification of the rules not just for managers, but contractors as well. Haynes’ prescriptions are sensible but unoriginal, though her suggestion that increased bidding competition could produce greater transparency is intriguing. Also, this is a doctoral thesis and reads like one—the prose is unwieldy and mechanically stiff, and the redundancies can be exasperating. The book is brimming with constipated sentences that simply don’t contribute new content: “Interviewing participants to gain an understanding of the requirements that the government contracting managers needed to lessen unethical behaviors by employees was both fascinating and informative.”

A reasonable if anodyne analysis written in clumsy academic jargon.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-5043-4410-4

Page Count: 130

Publisher: BalboaPress

Review Posted Online: Dec. 12, 2018

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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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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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