The author’s literate, committed voice sometimes disappears in his tangled wood of allusion and quotation.

THE CONSERVATIVE SENSIBILITY

The veteran Washington Post columnist and TV commentator offers a richly documented history of and argument for a wider embrace of conservative political values.

“Richly documented” is an understatement. Will (A Nice Little Place on the North Side: Wrigley Field at One Hundred, 2014, etc.) is nothing if not a thorough, dedicated researcher and thinker, but he’s often prolix. Many of the historical figures the author references will come as no surprise—e.g., Burke, Moynihan, Madison, Locke—and there are also plenty from the literary world; these include allusions to Twain and Fitzgerald, whose closing sentences from The Great Gatsby provide Will with a metaphor for his principal points. Not much the Pulitzer winner offers here will surprise those who have paid attention to his rhetoric over the decades. His three American heroes remain: Washington, Lincoln, John Marshall. He thinks the U.S. government has grown too big, that it is too interested in providing entitlements (Will is a believer in much more self-reliance than he sees evident today), that schools and universities should do a much more rigorous job of transmitting the Western historical heritage, and that progressives just don’t understand how America is supposed to work. However, in one chapter, he may surprise some readers: He declares he is an atheist (though “amiable, low-voltage”), and he spends a few pages reminding us that the founders were not particularly religious and that we must observe the separation of church and state. He praises the civil rights movement but asserts that much of it has gone wrong. Oddly missing are direct references to the current occupant of the White House, though Will does zing many of his predecessors (from both parties but principally Democrats), mostly for their failure to comprehend fully the concept of liberty that fueled the founders.

The author’s literate, committed voice sometimes disappears in his tangled wood of allusion and quotation.

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-48093-2

Page Count: 640

Publisher: Hachette

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS

Maya Angelou is a natural writer with an inordinate sense of life and she has written an exceptional autobiographical narrative which retrieves her first sixteen years from "the general darkness just beyond the great blinkers of childhood."

Her story is told in scenes, ineluctably moving scenes, from the time when she and her brother were sent by her fancy living parents to Stamps, Arkansas, and a grandmother who had the local Store. Displaced they were and "If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat." But alternating with all the pain and terror (her rape at the age of eight when in St. Louis With her mother) and humiliation (a brief spell in the kitchen of a white woman who refused to remember her name) and fear (of a lynching—and the time they buried afflicted Uncle Willie under a blanket of vegetables) as well as all the unanswered and unanswerable questions, there are affirmative memories and moments: her charming brother Bailey; her own "unshakable God"; a revival meeting in a tent; her 8th grade graduation; and at the end, when she's sixteen, the birth of a baby. Times When as she says "It seemed that the peace of a day's ending was an assurance that the covenant God made with children, Negroes and the crippled was still in effect."

However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1969

ISBN: 0375507892

Page Count: 235

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1969

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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.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

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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