A powerful defense of democracy coupled with a thoughtful survey of the struggle for civil rights.

OUR UNFINISHED MARCH

THE VIOLENT PAST AND IMPERILED FUTURE OF THE VOTE—A HISTORY, A CRISIS, A PLAN

The former attorney general lays out the extraordinary challenges minority voters face with Republican efforts at voter suppression.

As Holder notes, we are in the midst of “a crisis unlike any we’ve faced since the signing of the Voting Rights Act [of 1965]: American democracy is on the brink of collapse.” Blame it on an intransigent GOP that has set up roadblocks to voting and installed gerrymandered safe districts across the country. Blame it on Barack Obama, too—or, better, attribute the GOP’s concerted efforts on the party’s fear of a Black president and determination never to let another Black candidate gain that office. At the same time, many GOP operatives are working not just to suppress minority votes, but also to ensure that the next coup succeeds, “rigging our democracy in their favor.” Like many critics, Holder, whose title derives from the civil rights march in Alabama that resulted in the Voting Rights Act, considers the Electoral College an enemy of democracy. He also finds fault in the superannuated, super-White, superwealthy Senate and in the “minoritarian rulings” of the Supreme Court, made possible in some measure because of the Republicans’ blocking of Merrick Garland’s appointment to the bench and subsequent installation of Amy Coney Barrett, “the kind of hypocrisy that makes the American people hate politics.” Holder writes critically, but he also offers a positive program for change that insists that only by popular actions, such as voter drives and demands for electoral fairness on the part of elected officials, will that change come. It can be done, he adds; part of the work is over the long haul, exemplified by the decades it took women to earn the right to vote, to say nothing of Black and Native American constituencies. Another part is the kind of direct action that recently forced the Texas legislature to withdraw the most retrograde provisions of a packet of voter-suppression measures.

A powerful defense of democracy coupled with a thoughtful survey of the struggle for civil rights.

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-44574-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: March 10, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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A scattershot exercise in preaching to the choir.

THE WAR ON THE WEST

A British journalist fulminates against Black Lives Matter, critical race theory, and other threats to White privilege.

“There is an assault going on against everything to do with the Western world—its past, present, and future.” So writes Spectator associate editor Murray, whose previous books have sounded warnings against the presumed dangers of Islam and of non-Western immigration to the West. As the author argues, Westerners are supposed to take in refugees from Africa, Asia, and Latin America while being “expected to abolish themselves.” Murray soon arrives at a crux: “Historically the citizens of Europe and their offspring societies in the Americas and Australasia have been white,” he writes, while the present is bringing all sorts of people who aren’t White into the social contract. The author also takes on the well-worn subject of campus “wokeness,” a topic of considerable discussion by professors who question whether things have gone a bit too far; indeed, the campus is the locus for much of the anti-Western sentiment that Murray condemns. The author’s arguments against reparations for past damages inflicted by institutionalized slavery are particularly glib. “It comes down to people who look like the people to whom a wrong was done in history receiving money from people who look like the people who may have done the wrong,” he writes. “It is hard to imagine anything more likely to rip apart a society than attempting a wealth transfer based on this principle.” Murray does attempt to negotiate some divides reasonably, arguing against “exclusionary lines” and for Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s call for a more vigorous and welcoming civil culture. Too often, however, the author falters, as when he derides Gen. Mark Milley for saying, “I want to understand white rage. And I’m white”—perhaps forgetting the climacteric White rage that Milley monitored on January 6, 2021.

A scattershot exercise in preaching to the choir.

Pub Date: April 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-316202-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Broadside Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2022

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Gates offers a persuasive, 30,000-foot view of a global problem that, he insists, can be prevented given will and money.

HOW TO PREVENT THE NEXT PANDEMIC

The tech mogul recounts the health care–related dimensions of his foundation in what amounts to a long policy paper.

“Outbreaks are inevitable, but pandemics are optional.” Thus states the epidemiologist Larry Brilliant, a Gates adviser, who hits on a critically important point: Disease is a fact of nature, but a pandemic is a political creation of a kind. Therefore, there are political as well as medical solutions that can enlist governments as well as scientists to contain outbreaks and make sure they don’t explode into global disasters. One critical element, Gates writes, is to alleviate the gap between high- and low-income countries, the latter of which suffer disproportionately from outbreaks. Another is to convince governments to ramp up production of vaccines that are “universal”—i.e., applicable to an existing range of disease agents, especially respiratory pathogens such as coronaviruses and flus—to prepare the world’s populations for the inevitable. “Doing the right thing early pays huge dividends later,” writes Gates. Even though doing the right thing is often expensive, the author urges that it’s a wise investment and one that has never been attempted—e.g., developing a “global corps” of scientists and aid workers “whose job is to wake up every day thinking about diseases that could kill huge numbers of people.” To those who object that such things are easier said than done, Gates counters that the development of the current range of Covid vaccines was improbably fast, taking a third of the time that would normally have been required. At the same time, the author examines some of the social changes that came about through the pandemic, including the “new normal” of distance working and learning—both of which, he urges, stand to be improved but need not be abandoned.

Gates offers a persuasive, 30,000-foot view of a global problem that, he insists, can be prevented given will and money.

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-53448-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2022

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