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

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

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

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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