Forthright, fair and frank reporting.

ROGUE ELEPHANT

HARNESSING THE POWER OF INDIA'S UNRULY DEMOCRACY

An examination of what may be salvaged from the recent squandering of India’s “golden era.”

Former Indian bureau chief for the Washington Post, now based in China, Denyer watched with dismay as the great promise of Indian economic growth unleashed in 1991 derailed due to entrenched obstacles that have continually hindered the country. Corruption, patriarchal values that tolerate the abuse of women, poverty and low education, feeble infrastructure and social services, dynastic politics, and a burgeoning population that will overtake China’s in 2025 and leave a dearth of jobs for young people: Denyer addresses these intractable issues in turn, offering at the same time a glimmer of hope that India’s “insanely complex democracy” might still be able to prevail. Accountability is the key, and the vast majority of Indians, while extremely poor, do vote. From their ranks, some crusading new leaders have emerged—e.g., activists spearheading the landmark Right to Information Act, which helped expose the corruption behind Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s administration, and the small farmers who took on the laws governing land rights. The shabby handling of the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi in 2010 and Singh’s silence as his colleagues “filled their pockets” exposed India again to the kind of global censure and ridicule it had hoped to banish forever. Yet, promisingly, the scandals emboldened a public outcry, leading to the dogged exposure of Singh’s operations by Comptroller and Auditor Vinod Rai, the galvanizing of the India Against Corruption movement led by the Gandhian figure Anna Hazare, the huge popularity of Arnab Goswami’s hard-hitting TV journalism, the support of whistle-blowers within the bureaucracy and massive protests against government mishandling of rape cases. Denyer even takes on scion Rahul Gandhi and the “culture of sycophancy” that has surrounded him.

Forthright, fair and frank reporting.

Pub Date: June 24, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-62040-608-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS

Maya Angelou is a natural writer with an inordinate sense of life and she has written an exceptional autobiographical narrative which retrieves her first sixteen years from "the general darkness just beyond the great blinkers of childhood."

Her story is told in scenes, ineluctably moving scenes, from the time when she and her brother were sent by her fancy living parents to Stamps, Arkansas, and a grandmother who had the local Store. Displaced they were and "If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat." But alternating with all the pain and terror (her rape at the age of eight when in St. Louis With her mother) and humiliation (a brief spell in the kitchen of a white woman who refused to remember her name) and fear (of a lynching—and the time they buried afflicted Uncle Willie under a blanket of vegetables) as well as all the unanswered and unanswerable questions, there are affirmative memories and moments: her charming brother Bailey; her own "unshakable God"; a revival meeting in a tent; her 8th grade graduation; and at the end, when she's sixteen, the birth of a baby. Times When as she says "It seemed that the peace of a day's ending was an assurance that the covenant God made with children, Negroes and the crippled was still in effect."

However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1969

ISBN: 0375507892

Page Count: 235

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1969

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A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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