An important book for policymakers and those interested in the continuing, depressingly widespread instances of gun violence.




A freelance journalist who worked at the Richmond Times-Dispatch for 28 years seeks the answer to an important question: “Could the [2007 Virginia] Tech killings change how people think about gun violence in Virginia and, by extension, the rest of the nation?”

On April 16, 2007, Kapsidelis was dispatched to the Virginia Tech campus, responding to reports of a shooting. In his first book, the author discloses what he saw that day, which included 32 students and faculty members dead, many others physically wounded, and countless emotionally traumatized. As he learned more about the perpetrator, senior Seung-Hui Cho, Kapsidelis cataloged the warning signs that he should have been in counseling and certainly should have been barred from procuring weapons. One of the most puzzling aspects of the killing spree was how the gunman was able to murder two students at a dormitory in the early morning hours, escape undetected, and then enter another campus building hours later to murder 30 more. Furthermore, why did university officials fail to alert students, faculty, and staff about possible danger after learning about the dormitory murders? Although Kapsidelis’ account of the violence is well-researched and clearly written, his book’s major accomplishment is the author’s exploration of the healing process, which he indicates in the subtitle. Too many accounts of murderous rampages fail to offer long-term insights into the trauma faced by survivors, but Kapsidelis provides useful information on the topic, including discussions of “gun violence as a health issue.” The author’s cast of characters is large, which may make the account difficult to follow for some readers; ultimately, though, the broad cast makes the narrative deeper and more profound. An unexpected strength is the focus on Virginia’s governor at the time, Tim Kaine.

An important book for policymakers and those interested in the continuing, depressingly widespread instances of gun violence.

Pub Date: April 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8139-4222-3

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Univ. of Virginia

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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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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