An urgent call for “historic renewal” by one of America’s sharpest minds.

READ REVIEW

STRATEGIC VISION

AMERICA AND THE CRISIS OF GLOBAL POWER

Jimmy Carter’s national security advisor offers an astute, elegant appraisal of the waning of America’s “global appeal” and the severe consequences of the shifting of power from West to East.

Despite filling the vacuum left after the fall of the Soviet Union, the West is tottering as a global superpower. Brzezinski (American Foreign Policy/Johns Hopkins Univ.; Second Chance: Three Presidents and the Crisis of American Superpower, 2007, etc.) looks carefully at this shifting redistribution in global power as the West recedes, making way for entrants from Asia, Africa and Latin America, seized by their own sense of political awareness. In his crisp, systematic fashion, the author begins by examining reasons for the waning U.S. influence, offering some pointed criticism: The “durability of its leadership is increasingly questioned worldwide because of the complexity of its internal and external challenges”; its magical twin motivations of idealism and materialism are no longer viable; its own house is in disrepair; and its populace is self-deluded and, frankly, ignorant about the rest of the world. Weakened further by its unwarranted aggression in Afghanistan and Iraq, the U.S. is now seen as a negative influence, arousing animus worldwide. Meanwhile, the sun is rising in the East, and Brzezinski looks at growth in China, Japan, Turkey, Russia, India and others—though the author concludes that most are plagued by too many problems to become world leaders by 2025. Other hotspots make up the “geopolitically most endangered states,” such as Georgia, Taiwan, South Korea, Belarus, Ukraine, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Israel. Ultimately, Brzezinski provides a powerful cautionary tale: By harnessing its overall strengths in terms of economic, social and political ranking, superiority of higher education, rich natural resources and population resiliency, America can indeed “rise to the occasion.”

An urgent call for “historic renewal” by one of America’s sharpest minds.

Pub Date: Jan. 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-465-02954-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Basic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2011

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?

A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more