An impassioned call for continued efforts for change.



A hard-hitting revisionist history of civil rights activism.

Theoharis (Political Science/Brooklyn Coll.; The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks, 2013, etc.) argues persuasively that the reality of the civil rights movement has become a benign national fable, invoked by public officials and liberals to assert their “enlightened bona fides” and by critics of activist groups such as Black Lives Matter in an effort to silence them. Central to this fable are distorted images of Rosa Parks, depicted as a quiet, meek woman, and Martin Luther King Jr., whose achievements are attributed to his “loving, nonviolent approach.” As activist Julian Bond once put it, “the narrative of the movement has been reduced to ‘Rosa sat down, Martin stood up, then the white folks saw the light and saved the day.’ ” Theoharis strongly believes that turning the civil rights movement into “museum history” promotes the false idea of “an exceptional America moving past its own racism.” She also points out that racism is not limited to the South; she shows how the “polite racism” of the North “framed resistance to desegregation in the language of ‘neighborhood schools,’ ‘taxpayer’s rights,’ and ‘forced busing.’ ” Denying personal animosity toward blacks, Northerners revealed racism in “silence, coded language, and the demonization of dissent.” Theoharis takes the media to task for their coverage of uprisings in Detroit, Los Angeles, and New York; reporters, she writes, failed to investigate the “racial inequities embedded in their city’s schools, policing, or municipal structures” and presented the violence as a stunning surprise rather than the culmination “of a protracted struggle.” Similarly, she criticizes the movie Detroit (2017) for “completely erasing the history of Black life and activism in the city” before the killings depicted. She also criticizes Barack Obama, who as candidate and president warned black men not to use racism as an excuse for personal failure, thereby diverting focus from civil rights organizing to “inward self-help.” Chronicling the efforts of many activists, the author underscores her message that reform requires courage and hard work.

An impassioned call for continued efforts for change.

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8070-7587-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 30, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2017

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


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 Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.


Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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