Impressive political analysis, anchoring electoral trends in the larger demographic, social, business and moral environment.




A penetrating examination of the Republicans’ permanent campaign—and the Democrats’ still-formidable disadvantages—from Washington Post senior political reporter Edsall.

Globalization and the civil-, women’s- and sexual-rights movements have polarized the electorate. Residential enclaves reinforce cultural values, consumer choices and religious convictions, leaving only a sliver of undecided voters. (One consequence: Republicans have come to rely more heavily on religious traditionalists, while secularists comprise a larger proportion of Democratic voters.) This means that since 2000, Republican strategy has switched from reaching out toward centrists to mobilizing the base. Judging from the massive evidence presented here, Karl Rove & Co. excel at politics as narrowcasting, with advertising targeted with a sophistication that has rattled Democrats. Unfortunately, the Democrats’ well-educated, affluent, tech-savvy elite emphasize culturally libertarian norms at the expense of their “disadvantaged and disproportionately minority” rank-and-file, who, Edsall observes, are badly served by Republican economic policies that stress individual risk-management. The author predicts that victories resulting from disgust with the Jack Abramoff scandal or even the Iraq war will prove ephemeral unless the Democrats improve their organizational infrastructure and neutralize “wedge” issues such as gay marriage that have helped the GOP achieve slim but decisive electoral victories for 40 years. Though not without ideological bias (e.g., are GOP loyalists really more likely to be driven by “anger points” than Democratic diehards?), Edsall presents a compelling analysis detailing the enormous institutional advantages enjoyed by the party in power. In contrast, Democratic special-interest groups have forced John Kerry, Joe Lieberman and Dennis Kucinich to back off positions on affirmative action and abortion that clash with liberal orthodoxy. An intra-party insurgency, à la Goldwater and Reagan in the GOP, might be the only way to disrupt the Democrats’ ossification, Edsall speculates.

Impressive political analysis, anchoring electoral trends in the larger demographic, social, business and moral environment.

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 2006

ISBN: 0-465-01815-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Basic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2006

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


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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