Valuable as a thought experiment alone but also an “actual plan” for effecting lasting political change.

THE DEVIL YOU KNOW

A BLACK POWER MANIFESTO

The distinguished New York Times columnist offers a daring but utterly sensible plan to advance Black civil rights.

The devil that Black Americans know all too well is racism, and, as Blow notes from the outset, it is not confined to the South: “Black people fled the horrors of the racist South for so-called liberal cities of the North and West, trading the devil they knew for the devil they didn’t, only to come to the painful realization that the devil is the devil.” Though George Floyd’s murder at the hands of Minneapolis police was roundly protested—and with Whites often outnumbering Blacks at demonstrations around the country—soon after, Jacob Blake suffered the same fate, in Milwaukee, by bullets rather than asphyxiation, but with “no similar outpouring of outrage.” What Blow calls “white liberal grievance” is useless in the face of a racist system that will not change. Or will it? Given that Georgia is at the crux of the 2020 presidential election and that Stacey Abrams’ get-out-the-vote campaign brought in hundreds of thousands of voters to turn the state blue, Blow considers the state “proof of concept” that Black voters can indeed sway elections. He adds that the entire South could follow suit if only Blacks would reverse the path of the Great Migration to the North during Jim Crow and remake the electoral map by forming a solid majority. As he writes, if just half of Black residents elsewhere moved South, it would establish that majority from Louisiana all the way across the Southern heartland to South Carolina, “a contiguous band of Black power that would upend America’s political calculus and exponentially increase Black political influence.” It would also end White supremacy in that intransigent region. “The South now beckons as the North once did,” he urges in his resounding conclusion. “The promise of real power is made manifest. Seize it. Migrate. Move.”

Valuable as a thought experiment alone but also an “actual plan” for effecting lasting political change.

Pub Date: Jan. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-291466-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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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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A top-notch political memoir and serious exercise in practical politics for every reader.

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A PROMISED LAND

In the first volume of his presidential memoir, Obama recounts the hard path to the White House.

In this long, often surprisingly candid narrative, Obama depicts a callow youth spent playing basketball and “getting loaded,” his early reading of difficult authors serving as a way to impress coed classmates. (“As a strategy for picking up girls, my pseudo-intellectualism proved mostly worthless,” he admits.) Yet seriousness did come to him in time and, with it, the conviction that America could live up to its stated aspirations. His early political role as an Illinois state senator, itself an unlikely victory, was not big enough to contain Obama’s early ambition, nor was his term as U.S. Senator. Only the presidency would do, a path he painstakingly carved out, vote by vote and speech by careful speech. As he writes, “By nature I’m a deliberate speaker, which, by the standards of presidential candidates, helped keep my gaffe quotient relatively low.” The author speaks freely about the many obstacles of the race—not just the question of race and racism itself, but also the rise, with “potent disruptor” Sarah Palin, of a know-nothingism that would manifest itself in an obdurate, ideologically driven Republican legislature. Not to mention the meddlings of Donald Trump, who turns up in this volume for his idiotic “birther” campaign while simultaneously fishing for a contract to build “a beautiful ballroom” on the White House lawn. A born moderate, Obama allows that he might not have been ideological enough in the face of Mitch McConnell, whose primary concern was then “clawing [his] way back to power.” Indeed, one of the most compelling aspects of the book, as smoothly written as his previous books, is Obama’s cleareyed scene-setting for how the political landscape would become so fractured—surely a topic he’ll expand on in the next volume.

A top-notch political memoir and serious exercise in practical politics for every reader.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6316-9

Page Count: 768

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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