A thoughtful meditation on the importance—and limitations—of American military power.

READ REVIEW

SPEAKING UP FOR AMERICA

IN THE ROGUE RIVER VALLEY DURING THE VIETNAM WAR

Americans are summoned to rally around the beleaguered flag during the Vietnam War era in these ardent patriotic speeches.

Bornet (The Presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson, 1984, etc.), a retired history professor, collects speeches he gave from 1963 to 1976 to Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Veterans Day crowds as well as Rotary Clubs, student groups, and other audiences in rural Oregon. He also includes three essays penned in 1976, 1987, and 2009. Several themes emerge in the addresses. One is the nobility of U.S. foreign and military policy: from the Spanish-American War to the Korean War, America has fought to bring freedom and democracy to countries oppressed by dictatorship and communism. Another is the danger of all but “limited” wars in an age when the risk of igniting thermonuclear holocaust is so great that America should prefer diplomacy and suasion to combat. (His exemplar here is President Herbert Hoover, who avoided war with Japan after that country’s 1931 invasion of Manchuria.) A third is the difficulties posed by the “limited” war in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. Bornet’s conflicted take on U.S. intervention emphasizes the moral rightness of America’s effort to protect Southeast Asia from communist aggression, but as the war drags on, his confidence in its practicality wavers; by the revised 1974 version of his speech “Is there an ethical issue in Vietnam?” he notes that “the final costs of modern war with bombs and defoliants and terrorist tactics…are so extreme that the result can be unlikely to justify the means” and concludes that “we will do well to avoid such military solutions henceforth.” The author aims his strongest ire at the anti-war left, which, he believes, amplified its critique of the war into an attack on American institutions and values. Bornet’s speeches alternate between sonorous invocations of fallen soldiers and complicated geopolitical analysis while touching on everything from technology to civil rights and unemployment. They are consistently well-composed, lucid, and replete with good turns of phrase: “We must not pile evil upon evil while trying to stamp out evil.” His certainty of American righteousness in Vietnam can seem unreflective because he never considers the grievances and motivations of the Vietnamese on the other side. Still, these speeches present a complex, nuanced view on the roiling issues of their eras.

A thoughtful meditation on the importance—and limitations—of American military power.    

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2011

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 147

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: March 19, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2019

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 11

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

Did you like this book?

more