A cleareyed argument that “strategy and governing [have] been replaced by instincts and partisan id.”

THE IMPOSTORS

HOW REPUBLICANS QUIT GOVERNING AND SEIZED AMERICAN POLITICS

A political writer argues that “the modern Republican Party has become a post-policy party.”

In this thoroughly researched book, Benen, blogger and award-winning producer of the Rachel Maddow Show, makes a solid case that in recent years, Republicans have repeatedly upended their once-cherished beliefs in order to focus on more power-oriented political and ideological goals. The author clearly demonstrates how Republicans have consistently reversed positions in order to score points against the Democrats, whether on trade, taxes, guns, immigration, or deficits. Regarding deficits, “since Watergate, every Democratic president has left office with a deficit smaller than when he started, and every Republican president has left office with a deficit larger than when he arrived.” Furthermore, even when Republicans agreed with Democrats, at least in principle, as in the case of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, their votes often failed to reflect bipartisanship. Despite 130 congressional hearings over multiple committees, Republicans—who had once supported many of the Affordable Care Act’s tenets—claimed Obama had “rammed through” the ACA. A particularly ironic example of willful contrariness was the Ebola crisis of 2014, during which Republicans either accused Obama of being “too hands off” or of being alarmist. Donald Trump, who had yet to declare his candidacy, even called for his resignation. The author ably lays out the many disturbing trends in the Republican political arena, making a convincing case for his argument that the GOP has “quit governing” and now merely focuses on attaining and wielding power or simply negating any progress made by Democrats. Unfortunately, given the pace at which events unfold in today’s political landscape, much of the narrative may feel like old news not long after publication.

A cleareyed argument that “strategy and governing [have] been replaced by instincts and partisan id.”

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-302648-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 24, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change.

BEYOND THE GENDER BINARY

From the Pocket Change Collective series

Artist and activist Vaid-Menon demonstrates how the normativity of the gender binary represses creativity and inflicts physical and emotional violence.

The author, whose parents emigrated from India, writes about how enforcement of the gender binary begins before birth and affects people in all stages of life, with people of color being especially vulnerable due to Western conceptions of gender as binary. Gender assignments create a narrative for how a person should behave, what they are allowed to like or wear, and how they express themself. Punishment of nonconformity leads to an inseparable link between gender and shame. Vaid-Menon challenges familiar arguments against gender nonconformity, breaking them down into four categories—dismissal, inconvenience, biology, and the slippery slope (fear of the consequences of acceptance). Headers in bold font create an accessible navigation experience from one analysis to the next. The prose maintains a conversational tone that feels as intimate and vulnerable as talking with a best friend. At the same time, the author's turns of phrase in moments of deep insight ring with precision and poetry. In one reflection, they write, “the most lethal part of the human body is not the fist; it is the eye. What people see and how people see it has everything to do with power.” While this short essay speaks honestly of pain and injustice, it concludes with encouragement and an invitation into a future that celebrates transformation.

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change. (writing prompt) (Nonfiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09465-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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A scattershot exercise in preaching to the choir.

THE WAR ON THE WEST

A British journalist fulminates against Black Lives Matter, critical race theory, and other threats to White privilege.

“There is an assault going on against everything to do with the Western world—its past, present, and future.” So writes Spectator associate editor Murray, whose previous books have sounded warnings against the presumed dangers of Islam and of non-Western immigration to the West. As the author argues, Westerners are supposed to take in refugees from Africa, Asia, and Latin America while being “expected to abolish themselves.” Murray soon arrives at a crux: “Historically the citizens of Europe and their offspring societies in the Americas and Australasia have been white,” he writes, while the present is bringing all sorts of people who aren’t White into the social contract. The author also takes on the well-worn subject of campus “wokeness,” a topic of considerable discussion by professors who question whether things have gone a bit too far; indeed, the campus is the locus for much of the anti-Western sentiment that Murray condemns. The author’s arguments against reparations for past damages inflicted by institutionalized slavery are particularly glib. “It comes down to people who look like the people to whom a wrong was done in history receiving money from people who look like the people who may have done the wrong,” he writes. “It is hard to imagine anything more likely to rip apart a society than attempting a wealth transfer based on this principle.” Murray does attempt to negotiate some divides reasonably, arguing against “exclusionary lines” and for Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s call for a more vigorous and welcoming civil culture. Too often, however, the author falters, as when he derides Gen. Mark Milley for saying, “I want to understand white rage. And I’m white”—perhaps forgetting the climacteric White rage that Milley monitored on January 6, 2021.

A scattershot exercise in preaching to the choir.

Pub Date: April 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-316202-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Broadside Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2022

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