THE WOVEN FIGURE

CONSERVATISM AND AMERICA'S FABRIC, 1994-1997

Excellent tonic for those fans of the popular pundit (The Levelling Wind, 1994, etc.) who prefer to ingest his brand of conservatism in large doses. Large, in this case, means 150 essays unlinked by organizing themes or extended analyses. Regardless, in the Newsweek and Washington Post political columnist's latest musings about recent events, books, and people, he consistently delivers what his readers have come to expect: a principled partisanship leavened by wit, informed by a knowledge of history and philosophy, and strengthened by his choice to favor argument over rant. Nevertheless, finding novel opportunities to cast aspersions on liberals is a primary purpose (and an abiding amusement) for Will. Who else would extend an opinion that ``liberalism, as is well-known, is not fond of fun'' into an essay/obituary for the father of the Corvette? And yet Will resists the recently popular pabulum decreeing that liberals are always wrong (and probably evil), while conservatives are the miraculous gift of a blessed creator. By recognizing the tensions between capitalism and claims of individual rights on the one hand, and the pull of tradition, social order, and community on the other, the author confronts American conservatism with an honest and circumspect assessment of its flaws, as well as its advantages. In the longest and weightiest contribution to the volume, Will struggles with a ``cultural contradiction'' facing contemporary conservatives: It is not reasonable to resolutely oppose government when true conservatism stands for an order in which government is required. Moreover, simply to promote an alternative policy agenda would distinguish conservatives from liberals only by the particular interests they happened to serve. For Will, conservatism must rise above the commonplaces of the current Conservative Revolution. Vintage Will. One can only hope his work will inspire serious thought—and not just squeals of pleasure—from his like- minded colleagues. (Author tour)

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 1997

ISBN: 0-684-82562-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1997

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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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