An enlightening reexamination of American history.

AN AFRO-INDIGENOUS HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

A Saginaw Chippewa writer and scholar analyzes the unacknowledged, sometimes fraught relationships between the African American and Indigenous communities.

Many White Americans mistakenly believe that the U.S. is the land of freedom and liberty for all. In this latest installment in the publisher’s ReVisioning American History series, Mays, a UCLA professor of history, counters this notion by examining how American ideals and wealth were built on “enslaved African labor and the expropriation of Indigenous land.” To make his point, the author examines the relationships of Black and Native people to each other and to the U.S. He begins by positing that both groups should be considered Indigenous: one to Africa and the other to the Americas. Slaves were forced to give up tribal identities and assume “Blackness…[as] their condition” just as Natives were forced to assume a generic "red man" identity that marked them as lesser than Whites. This rigid racial hierarchy, along with the institution of slavery, created tensions between Blacks and Natives that became especially apparent during the expansionist phase of American history in the 19th century. For the Cherokee, for example, “race (and antiblackness) became a central component of [their] conceptions of sovereignty.” Both Black and Native communities began articulating their identities in the 20th century through groups like the Society of American Indians and the Universal Negro Improvement Association. But it was not until the civil rights era that Martin Luther King Jr. analyzed both communities together to better understand American racism. Since then, there has been some progress in healing intercommunity rifts, but only radical action can help eradicate them. Though not quite as in-depth as some readers may desire, this book reveals uncomfortable truths about the dehumanizing legacies of both capitalism and colonialism while forging a path of reconciliation between the Black and Native communities. Mays offers a solid entry point for further study.

An enlightening reexamination of American history.

Pub Date: Nov. 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-8070-1168-3

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 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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A well-documented and enlightened portrait of Eleanor Roosevelt for our times.

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ELEANOR

A LIFE

A comprehensive exploration of one of the most influential women of the last century.

The accomplishments of Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) were widespread and substantial, and her trailblazing actions in support of social justice and global peace resonate powerfully in our current moment. Her remarkable life has been extensively documented in a host of acclaimed biographies, including Blanche Wiesen Cook’s excellent three-volume life. Eleanor was also a highly prolific writer in her own right; through memoirs, essays, and letters, she continuously documented experiences and advancing ideas. In the most expansive one-volume portrait to date, Michaelis offers a fresh perspective on some well-worn territory—e.g., Eleanor’s unconventional marriage to Franklin and her progressively charged relationships with men and women, including her intimacy with newspaper reporter Lorena Hickok. The author paints a compelling portrait of Eleanor’s life as an evolving journey of transformation, lingering on the significant episodes to shed nuance on her circumstances and the players involved. Eleanor’s privileged yet dysfunctional childhood was marked by the erratic behavior and early deaths of her flighty, alcoholic father and socially absorbed mother, and she was left to shuttle among equally neglectful relatives. During her young adulthood, her instinctual need to be useful and do good work attracted the attention of notable mentors, each serving to boost her confidence and fine-tune her political and social convictions, shaping her expanding consciousness. As in his acclaimed biography of Charles Schulz, Michaelis displays his nimble storytelling skills, smoothly tracking Eleanor’s ascension from wife and mother to her powerfully influential and controversial role as first lady and continued leadership and activist efforts beyond. Throughout, the author lucidly illuminates the essence of her thinking and objectives. “As Eleanor’s activism evolved,” writes Michaelis, “she did not see herself reaching to solve social problems so much as engaging with individuals to unravel discontinuities between the old order and modernity.”

A well-documented and enlightened portrait of Eleanor Roosevelt for our times.

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4391-9201-6

Page Count: 704

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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