A vigorous complement to other primers in political activism and social justice.

MAKE CHANGE

HOW TO FIGHT INJUSTICE, DISMANTLE SYSTEMIC OPPRESSION, AND OWN OUR FUTURE

A blend of memoir and manifesto by Black Lives Matter leader King.

Born in 1979, the author was already a well-known activist, using social media for progressive causes, when a friend and Morehouse College classmate sent him a note advising him of a YouTube post showing the infamous 2014 “I can’t breathe” killing of Eric Garner by New York police. “The case and the injustice of the murder…consumed me from that day forward,” he writes. “I took it personally.” He dug deep to discover that the NYPD had banned the chokehold that killed Garner two decades earlier and discovered that police across the country “have shot and killed an average of three people a day,” most of whom never made the national news cycle, especially if they were members of ethnic minorities. Things are worse than ever, King writes, in a book that shares the spirit of Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals. The institutions that ostensibly protect all citizens are crumbling, gradually overcome by a creeping fascism that has risen slowly and stealthily over decades. What’s to be done? “Making change isn’t theoretical,” writes the author. “You have to get out there and fight for it. You have to be in the game, in the campaign, in the war.” Of course, that fight will involve losing some battles, as King’s mentor Bernie Sanders, who provides the foreword, has experienced, and it’s likely to be met by objections on the part of well-meaning people: “Nobody believes in me,” “I’ll start later,” “I’m afraid of failure.” There’s no time for all that, and King advises instead getting out and becoming involved in grassroots movements: “Don’t be pushy to the point of weirdness, but exchange information, and let them know that you are hoping to volunteer alongside them and could start immediately.” That encouragement is welcome, and in any event, writes King, those who oppose democratic change are busy on their end: “They are not passive defenders of the status quo but deliberate, forceful advocates of it.”

A vigorous complement to other primers in political activism and social justice.

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-358-04800-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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