A tremendously timely and important study of the rhetoric of hatred in our times.



A deeply relevant study of genocidal motivation and manifestation in America.

Rutgers anthropologist Hinton offers deep instruction for anyone seeking to better understand the bigotry that permeates American society. As the founder and director of the Center for the Study of Genocide and Human Rights and an expert witness in the prosecution of Khmer Rouge ideologue Nuon Chea, who was convicted of genocide in the international tribunal in Cambodia in 2018, the author is well situated to investigate the topic. Structuring the narrative around his college seminars, he uses as a point of departure the 1935 bestseller by Sinclair Lewis, It Can’t Happen Here, which focused on a populist demagogue who advanced bigoted, dictatorial themes, just as Trump did decades later. Hinton is deeply concerned with the idea of why people hate and how that hate plays out publicly. The violent Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017 plays a large role in this work, as the author shows how previously hidden White supremacist ideologies came to the fore. Hinton shows how these “ruptures” are simply one element of a long-standing systemic problem that Trump flushed into the open. “His presidency,” writes the author, “was a symptom of a long and enduring history of systemic white power in the United States, one filled with moments in which genocide and mass violence took place.” In addition to contextual background, Hinton moves methodically through specific White supremacist texts. As a committed teacher in the Socratic method, the author continually teases out answers from his intelligent, engaged students, who recognize that “it” has already happened here, many times over—from Native genocide to slavery to Jim Crow to the recent proliferation of White supremacy. As the author closes his well-researched, readable account in July 2020, one only wishes he could have included a section on the violent acts of Jan 6, 2021.

A tremendously timely and important study of the rhetoric of hatred in our times.

Pub Date: June 8, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4798-0801-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: New York Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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A clear and candid contribution to an essential conversation.


Straight talk to blacks and whites about the realities of racism.

In her feisty debut book, Oluo, essayist, blogger, and editor at large at the Establishment magazine, writes from the perspective of a black, queer, middle-class, college-educated woman living in a “white supremacist country.” The daughter of a white single mother, brought up in largely white Seattle, she sees race as “one of the most defining forces” in her life. Throughout the book, Oluo responds to questions that she has often been asked, and others that she wishes were asked, about racism “in our workplace, our government, our homes, and ourselves.” “Is it really about race?” she is asked by whites who insist that class is a greater source of oppression. “Is police brutality really about race?” “What is cultural appropriation?” and “What is the model minority myth?” Her sharp, no-nonsense answers include talking points for both blacks and whites. She explains, for example, “when somebody asks you to ‘check your privilege’ they are asking you to pause and consider how the advantages you’ve had in life are contributing to your opinions and actions, and how the lack of disadvantages in certain areas is keeping you from fully understanding the struggles others are facing.” She unpacks the complicated term “intersectionality”: the idea that social justice must consider “a myriad of identities—our gender, class, race, sexuality, and so much more—that inform our experiences in life.” She asks whites to realize that when people of color talk about systemic racism, “they are opening up all of that pain and fear and anger to you” and are asking that they be heard. After devoting most of the book to talking, Oluo finishes with a chapter on action and its urgency. Action includes pressing for reform in schools, unions, and local governments; boycotting businesses that exploit people of color; contributing money to social justice organizations; and, most of all, voting for candidates who make “diversity, inclusion and racial justice a priority.”

A clear and candid contribution to an essential conversation.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-58005-677-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Seal Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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