At times overwhelming in its scope, the book is a grave and timely look at the future of feeding the planet.




The ravages of climate change come into sharp focus in this exhaustive report from the front lines.

It is a scientific fact that the planet is warming. But how bad is climate change really? Based on the information in this country-hopping exploration of genetically modified seeds, vast land grabs in developing nations, the biofuel boom, and agribusiness overreach, we are in trouble. From Malawi to Mexico, Iowa to India, Wise, the senior researcher at the Small Planet Institute and director of its Food Rights Program, examines the complicated and confusing decisions that have brought us to the current situation: “hunger amid plenty.” The author argues convincingly that the main culprit is large-scale, industrial agribusiness. “Everywhere I traveled in researching this book,” he writes, “agribusiness interests were being promoted, to the detriment of family farmers, the environment, and the food and nutritional security of the world’s poor.” In Mexico he illustrates this point by writing about the fight of La Demanda Colectiva, a small group of farmers, consumers, and environmentalists who petitioned a ban on GM corn because they believed it would threaten the country’s maize diversity. Against all odds, Wise reports, an injunction remains in place, and the “Sin Maíz no hay País” (Without Corn There Is No Country) campaign has been able to continue its fight against Monsanto and other multinational agro-chemical conglomerates. However, that doesn’t mean GM corn hasn’t already left its mark, be it through American crop exports to the country or contamination. Regardless, the author believes that even in the midst of climate change and food insecurity, there’s reason to remain hopeful. “In the battle for the future of food,” he writes, “farmer resistance is strong, and so are their alternatives, many advanced under the banner of ‘food sovereignty.’ ”

At times overwhelming in its scope, the book is a grave and timely look at the future of feeding the planet.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-62097-422-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: The New Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 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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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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