An invaluable contemporary account of how millions of Europeans have taken divergent paths—of compromise or conflict—in...

HISTORY OF THE PRESENT

ESSAYS, SKETCHES, AND DISPATCHES FROM EUROPE IN THE 1990S

Ash (The File: A Personal History, not reviewed) acts as informed, impassioned eyewitness to post-communist Europe in this collection of dazzling essays, most of which were originally published in the New York Review of Books.

Following the "velvet revolutions" of 1989, Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, and the Balkans engaged in the hard work of nation-building (or rebuilding). In a kaleidoscopic treatment that combines journalism's immediacy with history's perspectives, Ash recounts the leaps and stutter-steps these countries took toward liberty and prosperity, as well as their unexpected reversals: old allies' quarrels, lapses into complacency, or, worst of all, descents into anarchy and barbarism. In Prague, he chronicles the explosion of "color, noise, [and] action" unleashed by new-found freedom; in Gdansk, he views the "head-high weeds [and] rusting hulls" of the former Lenin Shipyard with Lech Walesa, who rose to leadership of the Solidarity movement here. He visits former East German dictator Erich Honecker, dying of cancer in prison; discusses friend Helena Luczwo, once the sparkplug of a Polish underground newspaper, now deputy editor of the most successful newspaper in post-communist Europe; and offers a glowing appreciation of Pope John Paul II, "the greatest world leader of our times." While these profiles highlight Ash's eye for detail, other essays spotlight his bent toward moral inquiry. In "Trials, Purges, and History Lessons," Ash assesses how Central and Eastern Europe are addressing collaborators with communism. "Intellectuals and Politicians" takes issue with the contention of good friend Václav Havel, dissident playwright-turned-president, that intellectuals should enter politics in order to produce a "new wind" in public affairs. In four dispatches on Kosovo, he assails Western leaders for concentrating on monetary union early in the decade while ignoring Balkan tensions that culminated in Miloševic's "ethnic cleansing" campaign.

An invaluable contemporary account of how millions of Europeans have taken divergent paths—of compromise or conflict—in reaction to a decade of unanticipated change.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2000

ISBN: 0-375-50353-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2000

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A clear and candid contribution to an essential conversation.

SO YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT RACE

Straight talk to blacks and whites about the realities of racism.

In her feisty debut book, Oluo, essayist, blogger, and editor at large at the Establishment magazine, writes from the perspective of a black, queer, middle-class, college-educated woman living in a “white supremacist country.” The daughter of a white single mother, brought up in largely white Seattle, she sees race as “one of the most defining forces” in her life. Throughout the book, Oluo responds to questions that she has often been asked, and others that she wishes were asked, about racism “in our workplace, our government, our homes, and ourselves.” “Is it really about race?” she is asked by whites who insist that class is a greater source of oppression. “Is police brutality really about race?” “What is cultural appropriation?” and “What is the model minority myth?” Her sharp, no-nonsense answers include talking points for both blacks and whites. She explains, for example, “when somebody asks you to ‘check your privilege’ they are asking you to pause and consider how the advantages you’ve had in life are contributing to your opinions and actions, and how the lack of disadvantages in certain areas is keeping you from fully understanding the struggles others are facing.” She unpacks the complicated term “intersectionality”: the idea that social justice must consider “a myriad of identities—our gender, class, race, sexuality, and so much more—that inform our experiences in life.” She asks whites to realize that when people of color talk about systemic racism, “they are opening up all of that pain and fear and anger to you” and are asking that they be heard. After devoting most of the book to talking, Oluo finishes with a chapter on action and its urgency. Action includes pressing for reform in schools, unions, and local governments; boycotting businesses that exploit people of color; contributing money to social justice organizations; and, most of all, voting for candidates who make “diversity, inclusion and racial justice a priority.”

A clear and candid contribution to an essential conversation.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-58005-677-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Seal Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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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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