Movement-builders of today will want to take note of Hayden’s thoughtful look back.



“Hell, no, we won’t go!” Recently deceased politician and one-time radical leader Hayden (Listen Yankee! Why Cuba Matters, 2015, etc.) sounds a cri di antiguerre for the movement that helped halt America’s misadventure in Vietnam.

“Truth, it is said, is war’s first casualty. Memory is its second.” So writes the author, perfectly encapsulating his argument. By Hayden’s account, the Vietnam experience is slowly being remade, courtesy of conservative forces, into a just and blameless exercise in American goodwill. In that program of revision, the anti-war movement is being written out of history altogether. In this slender volume, the author charts how that movement originated, informed by popular struggles for independence around the world and for civil rights at home. He notes that, when it came to the early days of the movement, nothing was prepackaged, so that he and other radical leaders had to build their own set of arguments against “the dominant paradigm over our lives: that the Cold War was necessary to stop monolithic international Communism from knocking over the ‘dominoes’ of the Free World, one by one.” Hayden then considers the anti-war movement in action, voicing passing regret at the handful of protestors who chose to fly the Viet Cong flag. Against that tiny number of misguided people, he writes, stands a much-overshadowing popular movement, the first of its kind since McCarthyism, to halt an unjust war, one that needs to be studied and revived today. Another regret in this lucid and perfectly sized essay in reflection: that to some extent everyone might just as well have stayed home, since, he notes on a trip to Vietnam, the streets of Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi are lined with the same shops as in Kansas City: “Why kill, maim, and uproot millions of Vietnamese if the outcome was a consumer wonderland approved by the country’s still-undefeated Communist Party?”

Movement-builders of today will want to take note of Hayden’s thoughtful look back.

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-300-21867-1

Page Count: 168

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Nov. 23, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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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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