A testament to the importance of youth mentoring; includes an afterword by Tavis Smiley and a guide to more than 200...




A story about two young African-American men who share the same name and grew up on the same inner-city streets, but wound up in vastly different places.

Author Wes Moore, a Rhodes Scholar, former Army officer and White House Fellow, works in investment banking. The other Wes Moore, a drug dealer, is imprisoned for life. Both are in their early 30s. Upon reading about the other Wes’s 2000 conviction for armed robbery, the author wondered how the lives of two youths growing up in the same time (1990s) and place (Baltimore) could take such divergent paths. Drawing on conversations with the other Wes and interviews, the author creates an absorbing narrative that makes clear the critical roles that choices, family support and luck play in young people’s lives. The other Wes never knew his father, had a drug-pusher older brother and began dealing at an early age. His mother’s efforts to help were ineffectual. Often arrested—car theft, attempted murder, etc.—the other Wes dropped out of school, fathered four children and tried unsuccessfully to go straight. Then he took part in the store hold-up. The author faced similar challenges, he writes, but had enormous family support and several lucky breaks. He grew up with a devoted mother and two sisters; his father died when the author was very young. In 1984, the family moved to the crack-plagued Bronx to live with his caring grandparents, a minister and a teacher. When the author slipped into the local street life and began receiving poor grades at a private school, his family pooled limited resources and sent him away to a military academy. There he found positive role models, became a cadet commander and star athlete and gained a sense of purpose. Later, with help from several mentors, he earned a bachelor’s degree at Johns Hopkins and attended Oxford. “With no intervention—or the wrong intervention—[young boys] can be lost forever,” the author warns.

A testament to the importance of youth mentoring; includes an afterword by Tavis Smiley and a guide to more than 200 youth-service groups nationwide.

Pub Date: May 4, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-385-52819-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2010

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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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