Nevertheless, Melich's history is thorough and her rage well substantiated at every turn.



A lucid and passionate insider's indictment of the Republican party's misogynist political strategies and, even more valuable, an explanation of how they evolved.

Political consultant Melich is one of a dying breed of battle- weary Republican feminist activists. Here she describes Republican women's struggles to keep their party open to women and isues such as child care and reproductive freedom. Melich also recounts the party's calculated far-rightward move. Republican male leaders initially held widely divergent views on these issues (Goldwater's 1964 platforom even included a women's rights plank), but two events—the backlash against Roe v. Wade and the failure to pass the ERA—gave momentum to antifeminist forces; by the 1980s, antifeminism became such an important part of Republican strategy that it was virtually impossible for moderate opinions to get a hearing. All this despite the fact that polls repeatedly showed Americans moving to the right on economics but remaining moderate on social issues. Melich's discussion of how prominent women with feminist views were edged out of Reagan's and Bush's administrations is powerful, as are her descriptions of moderates selling out to extremists, first on ERA, then on abortion rights. Particularly insightful is her analysis of the infamous 1988 Willie Horton ad campaign; aside from race-baiting, she points out, the Bush campaign was also trying to appear pro-woman by making Dukakis look weak on rapists. The puzzling thing is that, though Melich writes articulately about her dedication to the women's movement, she is far less specific when she describes her Republican commitment. Though she implies that she has moderate conservative views on fiscal and foreign policy, readers will find inexplicable Melich's dedication to a party unresponsive to some of her most deeply held convictions.

Nevertheless, Melich's history is thorough and her rage well substantiated at every turn.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-553-10014-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Bantam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1995

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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.


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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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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