A richly documented indictment of power and corruption that bears urgent discussion in the coming electoral cycle.




One-time attorney Abramson extends the argument begun in Proof of Collusion: How Trump Betrayed America (2018) by widening the net of culprits.

Donald Trump entered the field of presidential contenders without a discernible ideology save receiving money for nothing, a penchant that many actors were glad to serve. In this long, complex study, the author adds evidence concerning the principal actor, Russia, while layering on other parties: Saudi Arabia, Israel, Egypt, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates. Each has served Trump in various ways—Saudi Arabia, for example, by once bailing Trump out from bankruptcy—and each has been rewarded in turn, with Egypt removed from sanctions, given more military aid than it requested, and legitimated even as elected members of the Muslim Brotherhood were branded as terrorists. There are geopolitical issues surrounding this network of “Red Sea conspirators,” as Abramson dubs them: All are committed to the continued supremacy of the oil economy, all are positioned to contain Iran and Syria, and all are autocratic to one extent or another—and there’s not much Trump likes better than an autocratic leader. Russia remains the principal villain of the piece, but, as the author writes, “the Saudis and Emiratis marked…the additional slate of possibilities opened up by the Kremlin’s burgeoning interest in a political neophyte with malleable ethics.” By Abramson’s extensive account, malleability has shifted into full-blown corruption, as Trump and his associates accepted Israeli intelligence here, Russian offers of support there, and the like. The author’s deft tracing of the undeclared international shuttling back and forth between interested parties of former Trump aide Michael Flynn will make readers wonder why he’s not locked inside a maximum security prison. Abramson closes by connecting the dots in current newspaper headlines: Netanyahu wins reelection in Israel, Saudi Arabia declares war on dissidents and neighboring nations alike, Trump pledges an additional 10,000 American troops for deployment in the Middle East, a prelude to war in Iran….

A richly documented indictment of power and corruption that bears urgent discussion in the coming electoral cycle.

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-25671-3

Page Count: 592

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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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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A clear and candid contribution to an essential conversation.


Straight talk to blacks and whites about the realities of racism.

In her feisty debut book, Oluo, essayist, blogger, and editor at large at the Establishment magazine, writes from the perspective of a black, queer, middle-class, college-educated woman living in a “white supremacist country.” The daughter of a white single mother, brought up in largely white Seattle, she sees race as “one of the most defining forces” in her life. Throughout the book, Oluo responds to questions that she has often been asked, and others that she wishes were asked, about racism “in our workplace, our government, our homes, and ourselves.” “Is it really about race?” she is asked by whites who insist that class is a greater source of oppression. “Is police brutality really about race?” “What is cultural appropriation?” and “What is the model minority myth?” Her sharp, no-nonsense answers include talking points for both blacks and whites. She explains, for example, “when somebody asks you to ‘check your privilege’ they are asking you to pause and consider how the advantages you’ve had in life are contributing to your opinions and actions, and how the lack of disadvantages in certain areas is keeping you from fully understanding the struggles others are facing.” She unpacks the complicated term “intersectionality”: the idea that social justice must consider “a myriad of identities—our gender, class, race, sexuality, and so much more—that inform our experiences in life.” She asks whites to realize that when people of color talk about systemic racism, “they are opening up all of that pain and fear and anger to you” and are asking that they be heard. After devoting most of the book to talking, Oluo finishes with a chapter on action and its urgency. Action includes pressing for reform in schools, unions, and local governments; boycotting businesses that exploit people of color; contributing money to social justice organizations; and, most of all, voting for candidates who make “diversity, inclusion and racial justice a priority.”

A clear and candid contribution to an essential conversation.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-58005-677-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Seal Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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