A well-documented, evenhanded work that will delight urban scholars and lay travelers.

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CITIES OF EMPIRE

THE BRITISH COLONIES AND THE CREATION OF THE URBAN WORLD

Ten vibrant cities across the globe tell the story of British imperialism in terms more nuanced and complicated than simply being good or bad.

British historian and Labour Party education spokesman Hunt (History/Univ. of London; Marx's General: The Revolutionary Life of Friedrich Engels, 2009, etc.) finds Niall Ferguson’s Empire: How Britain Made the Modern World (2003) too focused on the “heroic age of Victorian achievement.” Hunt offers a broader, more inclusive approach to the history of British imperial ambition through the evolving institutions, architecture, economies and mores of the empire’s far-flung transplanted urbanism, from the 17th century to today. Most of the cities are ports (save New Delhi) and evolved from specific strategic and financial exigencies on the British empire at a specific point in time: Bustling Boston represented the maritime empire’s more “benign and flexible connotations” (until the Revolution); Bridgetown, Barbados, avidly promoted the export economy through sugar production and the slave trade, allowing the wealthy plantocracy to stock their houses with all manner of fancy British goods. In the 1780s and ’90s, Dublin symbolized the enthusiasm for a unifying colonial relationship, however directed by a “narrow urban elite.” Cape Town, wrested from the Dutch, offered by its wondrous geography an imperial supremacy after the Seven Years’ War, while Calcutta symbolized “a colonial citadel which cemented Britain’s ‘Swing to the East.’ ” Hunt takes great pains to underscore the important, changeable relationship between settlers and the indigenous peoples. For example, in Melbourne in the late 19th century, the Aborigines were deemed too backward for “redemption” and thus were excluded from discussions on how to govern the colony. In moneymaking Bombay, the symbol of Britain’s capacity for technological and administrative progress, the multiethnic residents played an enormous role in creating the urban landscape. Throughout the book, Hunt ably demonstrates how these cities and their colonizations contributed to the development of urbanism.

A well-documented, evenhanded work that will delight urban scholars and lay travelers.

Pub Date: Nov. 25, 2014

ISBN: 978-0805093087

Page Count: 544

Publisher: Metropolitan/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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

NIGHT

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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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

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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