A sober, knowledgeable scholarly analysis of a timely issue.



The far-reaching consequences of abortion activism.

Legal historian Ziegler, who has documented the complexities of the abortion debate in several previous books, revisits the growth of the anti-abortion campaign with a focus on its impact on the Supreme Court, connection to campaign finance laws, and shaping of the contemporary political scene. After a brief overview of medical and legal arguments about abortion beginning in the mid-19th century, the author traces the controversy over right to life versus right to privacy that culminated in the 1973 Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade. After the court upheld Roe in 1992, activism shifted from local candidates to the national scene, focused on supporting presidential aspirants who would appoint conservative justices to the court. Campaign finance reform became part of that effort because limiting contributions made it difficult for advocacy groups to exert influence. The anti-abortion movement, therefore, saw an advantage in doing away with campaign finance limits, which, its lawyers argued, were equal to “restrictions on political speech.” Republicans have seen the issue of judicial nominees as a way to energize base voters, and they welcomed campaign finance deregulation to fill their coffers. However, as Ziegler shows, both alliances have weakened the GOP, opening the door to well-funded populists and fostering the party polarization that allows extremists, whom the party previously would have sidelined, to flourish. Ziegler’s deeply researched analysis draws on histories of the anti-abortion and abortion-rights movements, media reports, archival sources, legal decisions, and interviews—notably with James Bopp Jr., an Indiana lawyer at the forefront of anti-abortion strategy—to argue persuasively that the political complexities of abortion activism threaten democracy. Overturning Roe, and leaving abortion law up to individual states, is not the end goal of the anti-abortion movement; rather, activists are striving for a constitutional amendment that will outlaw abortion nationally.

A sober, knowledgeable scholarly analysis of a timely issue.

Pub Date: June 21, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-300-26014-4

Page Count: 344

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2022

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A scattershot exercise in preaching to the choir.


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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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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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

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