Not an apologia for resistance to immigration but rather a nuanced, important analysis of an issue fraught with...

GO BACK TO WHERE YOU CAME FROM

THE BACKLASH AGAINST IMMIGRATION AND THE FATE OF WESTERN DEMOCRACY

A well-researched and authoritatively written analysis that resists easy answers and generalizations regarding the complex problems of immigration.

American readers surprised by the rise of Donald Trump will see here that it is part of a phenomenon that extends from Holland and Denmark to Australia and South Africa, rearranging age-old political affinities and forging unlikely alliances in the process. A former Rhodes Scholar, op-ed editor at the New York Times, and senior editor at Foreign Affairs, Polakow-Suransky (The Unspoken Alliance: Israel's Secret Relationship with Apartheid South Africa, 2010), currently a fellow at the Open Society Foundation, plainly views the collapse of liberal democracy with alarm. Refreshingly, however, he generally steers clear of polemics and demonization, giving those on what he terms the “new far right” their voice and showing how widespread resistance to immigration in general, and Muslim immigration in particular, has moved from the fringes to the mainstream. He shows how working-class liberalism has suffered a split between ideologues more concerned with identity politics and social issues and voters who pine for the way things used to be and feel like their parties have abandoned their interests in favor of minority rights and religious tolerance. The author demonstrates how tensions throughout much of Europe are even greater than those in America, which has more of a melting-pot tradition and less of an indigenous character to its population. He also shows the tensions between secularized societies and immigrants whose conservative, sometimes fundamentalist beliefs can seem repressive to the culture at large and who might be seen as betraying their religious beliefs if they assimilate. Furthermore, many of those opposed to immigration, some former liberals, voice fears that the Muslim minority will become the European majority and thus “lead France and other European countries to civil war.”

Not an apologia for resistance to immigration but rather a nuanced, important analysis of an issue fraught with complications.

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-56858-592-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Nation Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular...

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WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR

A neurosurgeon with a passion for literature tragically finds his perfect subject after his diagnosis of terminal lung cancer.

Writing isn’t brain surgery, but it’s rare when someone adept at the latter is also so accomplished at the former. Searching for meaning and purpose in his life, Kalanithi pursued a doctorate in literature and had felt certain that he wouldn’t enter the field of medicine, in which his father and other members of his family excelled. “But I couldn’t let go of the question,” he writes, after realizing that his goals “didn’t quite fit in an English department.” “Where did biology, morality, literature and philosophy intersect?” So he decided to set aside his doctoral dissertation and belatedly prepare for medical school, which “would allow me a chance to find answers that are not in books, to find a different sort of sublime, to forge relationships with the suffering, and to keep following the question of what makes human life meaningful, even in the face of death and decay.” The author’s empathy undoubtedly made him an exceptional doctor, and the precision of his prose—as well as the moral purpose underscoring it—suggests that he could have written a good book on any subject he chose. Part of what makes this book so essential is the fact that it was written under a death sentence following the diagnosis that upended his life, just as he was preparing to end his residency and attract offers at the top of his profession. Kalanithi learned he might have 10 years to live or perhaps five. Should he return to neurosurgery (he could and did), or should he write (he also did)? Should he and his wife have a baby? They did, eight months before he died, which was less than two years after the original diagnosis. “The fact of death is unsettling,” he understates. “Yet there is no other way to live.”

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular clarity.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8840-6

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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